The Crimson Tide will have two new starters on its defensive line when they hit the field against Duke; and, unless something crazy happens in the next couple days, LaBryan Ray will be one of them.
Ray, a 5 star recruit in the star-studded Class of 2017, has spent the past two seasons as a back-up. He earned some playing time as a freshman before earning a bigger spot in the rotation - even nabbing one start, against Tennessee - his sophomore year. With Isaiah Buggs gone, Ray will finally become a regular starter.
Also, I slowed the speed down a little bit for the gifs in this one. If y’all don’t like it, I can go back to the normal speed.
2nd and 12: Ray (#89) is the right defensive end, opposite Tennessee’s left tackle. The running back is to Jarrett Guarantano’s left, and Ray sees him release into the flat. He adjusts his rush and takes several steps to his right so he can smash into the back, easily knocking him off balance. Guarantano throws to the running back - and Ray does a nice job of getting airborne with his arms up to try to deflect the ball - but the timing is off because of Ray. Incomplete and third down.
3rd and 12: It’s the next play. Ray is on the left side this time, lined up in the B gap (between the guard and tackle). Ray and the right guard go one-on-one, and Ray holds his ground. When the running back nears, Ray is able to shed the block and is one of three defenders making the tackle.
1st and 10: Ray is back on the right. The H-back is tasked with blocking Ray by his lonesome as the play is supposed to go to the other side. Quinnen Williams (#92) helps collapse the line, however; and the running back has to bounce back to the left. Ray has kept the H-back at length and quickly sheds him when he sees the ball coming back his way. He brings down the back for a loss of one.
1st and 15: Ray is on the right. The H-back delivers a cut block, hitting Ray directly above his left knee with his helmet. This obviously brings Ray down to the ground, but he gets up again because you’re never going to keep him down. He bounces back and, along with Isaiah Buggs (#49), makes the tackle.
1st and 10: Ray is on the right side. He does a good job initially, getting his hands in the left tackle’s chest and rushing by him. The tackle recovers fairly easily, though, and prevents Ray from getting a quick shot. Ray doesn’t have another move and tries to loop around. This doesn’t have a shot at working, and Ray stumbles while coming around.
1st and 10: No, Ray doesn’t factor into this play. He’s on the right side here. He’s left unblocked and stays wide, so Jarrett Stidham hands off to the back going away from Ray. Xavier McKinney, Anfernee Jennings, and Mack Wilson make the play and stop the running back; but Ray came in at the end. That’s something I noticed often in plays I didn’t include; Ray showing good effort even when it was others making the play.