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Insider Look at Alabama’s Second Scrimmage: Defense and Observations

Concluding our two-part analysis of Alabama’s second scrimmage

NCAA Football: Auburn at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

What follows is the second of a two-part analysis of Alabama’s second scrimmage. This is a closed event, so all sources herein are anonymous. I’ve pieced together quotes from several people to try and weave a narrative thread.

If you’ve not read Part One: Offense and Special Teams, give our Vox paymasters a click and check it out.

On the other side of the ball, let's talk about the defensive line. The talent is there, but the discipline may not be. What did the defensive front show you? And was there as heavy a rotation as many think we'll see?

There was a heavy rotation. This defense has a whole lot of run stuffers. Da’Shawn Hand was quiet, and Isaiah Buggs definitely takes some plays off. I was impressed with the effort Quinnen Williams gave pursuing plays to the sidelines and downfield. It looks like the strength this season of the defensive line will be stuffing the run and eating up blockers. The linebackers will be responsible for collapsing the pocket.

Did any reserves stand out on the defensive line?

Raekwon Davis played a lot and looked solid, but he was mostly going against the left guard and center, which as we know is a strength for Alabama. I didn't see Da’Ron Payne out there much so maybe he's dealing with an issue we don't know about. Joshua Frazier and Johnny Dwight were solid at the point of attack.

Most people expect the LB corps to be one of the strengths of the defense. What did you see with a pretty young unit? Where was Dylan Moses playing? Was there situational rotation at Jack like we expect? What was the line up?

There was a great deal of rotation at nearly every linebacker spot. Even some guys on the third-team would be All-SEC at other schools. Nick Saban said Rashaan Evans has emerged as a leader. Evans did not rotate as much as the others. Shaun Dion Hamilton looks healthy. Christian Miller and Anfernee Jennings got the start at Sam and Jack respectively, but the rotation kept going no matter who was in place. It’s going to be hard to keep Terrell Lewis off the field -- that guy's a monster. Keith Holcombe came in a bunch. Dylan Moses played quite a bit at Mike, performing well. Mack Wilson is a play maker at the Will spot. This is by far the Tide’s deepest and most talented unit.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The question most have is about the starting lineup in the secondary, the additional man packages, and who’s playing corner opposite Anthony Averett.

Did any of the freshmen or younger guys like Nigel Knott or Jared Mayden stand out?

As for the freshmen DBs? Honestly? No one really stood out with the younger players. The drop-off is high. Hope for no injuries to the starters.

The first string plus Shyheim Carter are very impressive. Deionte Thompson had an okay day too. Xavier McKinney has a lot of potential and made plays, but seemed a little all over the place. Levi Wallace and Keaton Anderson got abused.

Who were the starters? Who was the nickel?

Alabama will probably play a lot of extra men, if today is any indication. Trevon Diggs and Anthony Averett are at corners. Ronnie Harrison and Hootie Jones are at corners. Minkah Fitzpatrick plays corner in the nickel.

Based just on what you saw, who do you think is the 6th DB, or the first guy off the bench?

I wouldn't be surprised to see Shyheim Carter compete with Trevon Diggs for that spot. Diggs is obviously athletic as hell, but his lack of experience can be a liability. He's improved vastly since the spring, but Carter just played with a chip on his shoulder. In the Dime look, I think you'll see Tony Brown rotating in, but Thompson or Carter could conceivably see snaps depending on the situation.

Ronnie plays best closer to the line. Hootie reminds me of a Lester coverage-wise. Let him play deep in space. I mean, I'd consider Ronnie the surest tackler on the team.

Averett continues to impress me with his improvement. He's our second best cover man and the distance between him and the third isn't close.

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Alabama vs Florida Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Final questions(ish): Were there any Nick Saban remarks or observations of note?

Nick Saban was uncharacteristically relaxed. I expected him to be mad. But, no. He had no sith death stares.

Saban was driving home all his traditional talking points of commitment and execution, but in a different manner. I think being a grandfather has continued to alter his perspectives.

Coach Saban knows this team is different. It's young. Whereas the hardass approach works with a seasoned team, he knows the pressure of that on a younger team might not be as effective. For example, he said "the goal is not to practice until you get it right; it's to practice until you can't get it wrong." Two ways to basically say the same thing.

It's almost like Coach is taking a more Zen approach to motivation with this team. It really harkens back to the different approaches Phil Jackson took over the years.

I honestly believe Nick is having more fun, and he absolutely sees both the potential and the current flaws this team has, but is taking a different approach to coalescing talented players into a team, a unit, that he's not done the past 2 years with teams of seasoned veterans.

That’s it for our scrimmage wrapup. I’m sure Josh will have plenty of stuff in tomorrow’s JP. For now, take our crappy poll, and leave your hawt taeks below.

Once again, thank you to our anonymous benefactors at today’s scrimmage. We couldn’t do it without you.

Roll Tide


At what position would you play Minkah Fitzpatrick?

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