Da’Shawn Hand has waited patiently for his turn. He’s seen some mop-up duty and has been used in certain situations; but the #7 recruit in the Class of 2014 remained a second or third stringer as a freshman and sophomore, behind talents such as A’Shawn Robinson.
While nominally listed as Jonathan Allen’s back-up on the depth chart released on Monday, Hand will be on the field plenty this year, both as an end and a tackle. He has just five career sacks, but expect that number to go up in 2016.
1st and 10: With the game well under control, Hand has come in. He’s lined up as the right defensive end in the B gap (between the tackle and guard) with Rashaan Evans to his right. He’s a little slow off the snap; and the right tackle rams into his shoulder, knocking him off his feet. The quick handoff to the receiver on the sweep had most of the line fooled anyway.
3rd and 3: Bama’s in a 3-4 eagle front. Both defensive ends (Hand is on the right again) are aligned as 4i techniques (on the inside shoulder of the offensive tackle) while the nose tackle is heads up over the center. Hand is again a hair slow off the snap, and he charges into the left guard. QB Joel Stave uncorks a quick pass to the halfback on a wheel route. Hand turned and located the ball quickly; and he takes off in pursuit. ILB Keith Holcombe misses the tackle, but Hand and Dalvin Tomlinson (the other defensive end) bring the back down from behind.
3rd and 7: Hand is the left defensive end, one of the three down linemen for Alabama. The slot receiver on the right motions into the backfield, and Dak Prescott has the option of giving it to him or keeping it. He keeps it. Unfortunately for Prescott, both defensive ends (Tim Williams is the other) are unblocked. Williams and Hand converge and tackle Prescott for just a yard gain.
2nd and 9: Hand is the strongside defensive end on the right. It’s a designed run for Prescott, and he heads in Hand’s direction. State leaves a tight end to block Hand, which ain’t enough. He engages the tight end and holds him away at arm’s length while reading the play. Prescott bounces outside, and Hand easily disengages. He grabs Prescott and flings him to the ground for a loss.
1st and 10: Hand is in as the RDE in this nickel grouping. His reaction off the snap appears to still be an issue as he’s the last lineman to get moving. He gets right in the chest of the left tackle David Sharpe and gets his arms inside Sharpe’s. Hand keeps his feet moving as he tries to find a way through. Sharpe gets some help from the left guard Martez Ivey, though that is brief. A’Shawn Robinson destroys the center, shoving him back almost into Treon Harris, who now has to scramble; and Ivey turns his attention back to Robinson. This lets Hand come back inside on Sharpe and get through. He forces Harris to move up into traffic, and that’s the end of that play. Hand and Robinson both get credit for the tackle.
2nd and 20: Hand is lined up as 3-tech defensive tackle with Ryan Anderson to his right. He stays low and gets inside OG Eric Mac Lain’s chest, driving him backwards with ease. The delayed hand-off goes to RB Wayne Gallman, but Hand has driven Mac Lain right into his path. Gallman sidesteps, but Hand disengages and brings him down for the loss.
1st and 10: Hand is the weakside defensive end. Deshaun Watson fakes the hand-off and looks to his H-back, but Reggie Ragland is pressuring him. Hand is one-on-one against left tackle Mitch Hyatt. He keeps his eyes on Watson; and when Hand sees him start to scramble, he flicks Hyatt aside with the tiniest of moves. Watson has no running room and several defenders, including Hand, join in for the tackle.
1st and 10: Hand is again on the right side. TE Jordan Leggett is on the right for Clemson, but he comes back to the left once the ball is snapped. Hyatt leaves Hand unblocked and moves to the second level. Watson pulls the ball from Gallman and keeps it, but Leggett tries to step out of Hand’s way instead of blocking him. Watson already had little room to work with, and he has even less after Hand nudges Leggett aside. Hand wraps him up and drags him down.
1st and 10: Hand is heads up over RG Brandon Kennedy. He comes off the snap quickly and initiates contact with Kennedy, getting his hands inside Kennedy’s. He uses his powerful legs to keep churning, driving Kennedy backwards. Hand shrugs him aside and extends his right arm up as he jumps to try and deflect the pass. Tim Williams has manhandled poor Korren Kirven at left tackle and is also in David Cornwell’s face.