Nick Saban’s philosophy has always been about affecting the quarterback. Usually, that has involved pressuring the quarterback into a rushed or bad throw, forcing a bad read, batting passes down at the line of scrimmage, winning the mental game. But, when all the pieces are in place, Saban’s teams can not only do all of those things, but, without even blitzing, can destroy quarterbacks with just 3- or 4-down linemen.
The 2015 Alabama front seven was special, ringing up 52 sacks for a loss of 336 yards. After the loss of stalwarts like Jarran Reed and A’Shawn Robinson, what would the Tide do for an encore in 2016?
Why, Alabama would have an even better season, posting 54 sacks. The dominant Johnathan Allen was the best defender, and maybe the best overall player, in the country. Daron Payne had worked on his pass-rushing chops at nose. Dalvin Tomlinson not only emerged, but was a star. Ryan Anderson beefed up even more, playing on the end on nearly 70% of his Jack snaps. Behind those guys, the linebacking corps was as athletic and fierce as we’ve seen: Reuben Foster, Rashaan Evans, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Tim Williams and reserves like Mack Wilson all brought the heat.
This year may see Alabama’s regression to its mean while the new starters step in, usually low-mid 30s in sacks. But, for the past two seasons, Alabama’s defensive line led the charge for 106 sacks and over 700 yards of lost offense for opponents. It was a thing of beautiful, ferocious violence.
I could not find a clip of Alabama’s 54 sacks in 2016, but I think you’ll be just as pleased with this...
54 days ‘til Alabama football