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Alabama Football Film Room: Rashaan Evans

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Rashaan Evans was a highly touted commit when he came to Tuscaloosa, yet his impact has been relatively light until recently. He's a terror on the edge but has been stuck deep in the pass-rushing rotation. Expect to see a lot more of him in 2016.

Rashaan Evans against Clemson, the best game of his career
Rashaan Evans against Clemson, the best game of his career
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Rashaan Evans was a five star outside linebacker that Saban and company plucked out of Auburn’s backyard (Auburn High School).  He’ll be a junior this year and has spent the past two seasons as a back-up and a special teamer.  He’s in line for a larger role this year, but he likely won’t be a starter.  Still, reserves can make huge contributions (Williams, Tim).  I expect we’ll see him a good bit on passing downs, and he spent the spring working at inside linebacker.


Former NFL LB Shawne Merriman has singled Evans out for praise, as has Reggie Ragland.  While Evans best work would likely come as an outside linebacker, I’m fully confident he can be a playmaker inside as well.  He’s got the athleticism and skill to play any of the Alabama linebacker positions, really.  He’s too good to solely be pass-rush specialist.  Our own Clint Lamb had a great write-up on Evans a couple weeks ago that you should check-out if you haven’t already.


Arkansas



  • 3rd and 7: Reggie Ragland is out with an injury (he returns a few minutes later), and Rashaan Evans is lined up as one of the two LBs along with Reuben Foster. Foster takes a step in like he’s blitzing but comes back.  Dalvin Tomlinson just destroys this play and forces QB Brandon Allen to scramble.  Evans sees this and just beelines to cut Allen off and registers his first sack of the season and the second of his career.


Tennessee



  • 3rd and 10: Evans is lined up at defensive end on the right tackle.  He’s slow off the snap and handles the quarterback’s roll out fine.  Evans doesn’t really beat the RT but pushes him back a little.



  • 3rd and 10: Evans is lined up at DE on the outside shoulder of the left tackle.  He stunts inside and puts his shoulder into the left guard’s chest while keeping his legs churning.  Evans sees QB Josh Dobbs start to scramble, bounces around the left of line, and quickly closes.  Dobbs is forced to make an errant throw while getting a QB hit.





  • 3rd and 10: Evans is lined up at DE on the left tackle.  His speed rush fails, but he gets free and tries to go inside and follow Josh Dobbs.  Evans sees Dobbs rolling back left and changes to direction to follow.  He jumps and gets arms up but doesn’t tip the pass.  While I think Dobbs was keeping his eyes downfield and wasn’t going to run, Evans was really the only defender there that could’ve prevented it.


Auburn



  • 3rd and 8: Evans lines up at DE on the right tackle.  He doesn’t beat the blocker and ends up on the ground;however,  he quickly gets up and locates Jeremy Johnson.  Evans darts off like a missile and smashes into Johnson from behind, short of the first down. Possibly my favorite play of his. Here's another shot of it.





  • 3rd and 10: Evans lines up at DE on the LT. He gets shoved back by the LT, re-engages, and gets tossed to the ground.  Evans pops back up quickly and starts moving but play is over, though.



  • 3rd and 10: Evans is standing up a little behind and to the right of the nose tackle (A’Shawn Robinson).  He blitzes and almost runs into Jonathan Allen, but he bounces around and gets picked up by the running back.





  • 4th and 7: Evans again is standing up to the right of the NT (this time Dalvin Tomlinson), threatening to blitz.  At the snap he takes a step in, faking the blitz, before pulling back and spying Johnson.



  • Kickoff: Okay, this is the only special teams play I’m highlighting.  It just made me chuckle.  Notice the guy holding onto the returner’s foot, possibly preventing him from slipping free for a possible big gain?  Evans latched on after being down on the ground.  After the scrum has moved on, he trots over and leaps onto the pile, helping provide the final push to tackle the returner.



Clemson



  • 2nd and 20: Evans is lined up as a DE on the left tackle.  He gets a good initial punch but is stoned by the LT.


  • 3rd and 23: Evans is standing up on right side of the NT (Dalvin Tomlinson).  He loops around the left of the line and gets shoved by the running back before spinning and locating the QB.  Evans brings Watson down for no gain.




  • 3rd and 8: Evans lines up standing up over the B gap.  He spies Deshaun Watson on this play, keeping his feet moving and flows with Watson.  When Evans sees Foster disrupt Watson and miss the sack, he quickly charges in to rush and gets a sack for -11 yards.



  • 1st and 10: Evans is standing up on the outside shoulder of the LT.  He stutter steps and beats the tight end with a pretty swim move, knifes between the TE and RB and sacks Watson while getting shoved.




  • 2nd and 13: Evans is standing up again.  It initially looks like a speed rush to the outside, but he rips off a beautiful spin move to beat the LT.  He doesn’t get Watson, but his rush causes him to scramble to the outside.  The rest of the play is ugly for the Bama defense as Wayne Gallman breaks tackles and almost reaches the redzone. Foster was late reacting to Gallman spilling out of the backfield and even misses the tackle, but it was an almost all around failure by the defense.  Still, a great pass rush by Evans.


A-Day



3rd and 5: Evans and Keaton Anderson are the two linebackers.  Evans is to the right some, on TE Miller Forristall.  He sticks right on top of Forristall as he breaks in, but Barnett’s pass goes to WR Derek Kief.  Evans comes off Forristall and darts over to make the tackle.



1st and 10: The clip starts off from behind the offense.  Evans is to the left, behind the defensive lineman who’s lined up over the left guard.  Barnett hands off to Damien Harris, and Forristall comes through the A gap (between the guard and the center) to block Evans.  He easily stacks and sheds Forristall’s attempted block and hits Harris.  Evans did exactly as he was supposed to.



1st and 10: Evans is lined up to the strong side of the line this time.  He takes a step forward and to the left on the snap, and then he shuffles that way when he sees the play developing.  Jalen Hurts hands it off to Derrick Gore.  Evans keeps his eyes on the running back as he moves to the side, and he cuts back to the right when he sees Gore do that.  Evans is right in the hole and makes the tackle.




2nd and 6: Evans is again on the strong side.  Hurts hands it off to Gore once more.  As soon as Evans reads run, he catapults towards the line; and the right tackle Matt Womack never stands a chance.  Evans shoots through the gap, but he misses the tackle.  Still, he got a hand on Gore and blew up the play.  Hootie Jones and others are there to make the tackle for no gain.  Here's another shot.



3rd and 5: Let’s just call this the Rashaan Evans drive.  The White offense is in shotgun with trips left.  This is a designed blitz for Evans, and boy does it work.  Anfernee Jennings is the right defensive end; and he goes inside, drawing the left tackle Bradley Bozeman in a step.  Evans is looping around to that side, though; and Bozeman can’t beat that speed.  Evans shrugs off the little contact Bozeman makes and has a clear shot at the QB.  Hurts notices and tries to roll right, but it’s too late.  Evans lunges and gets the "sack."  I’m pretty sure Hurts managed to get the throw off before his knee touched the ground, so it would’ve been incomplete in a real game.  Regardless, Evans shows how he can affect the passer even from an inside linebacker spot.