The Alabama inside linebackers had an up-and-down year. They were thrust into the fire because of injuries and had to try to learn and grow on the job. There were certainly head-scratching, frustrating moments; but there were also flashes of the coaches trusting two true freshmen instead of the players who had been around the program longer.
Christian Harris arguably had the steeper learning since he did not arrive on campus until the summer and didn’t actually have experience at inside linebacker in high school. Still, you could see his natural athleticism.
Harris finished the year fourth on the team in tackles with 63, 9 of which came in the Citrus Bowl against Michigan. He added 2 tackles for loss and a pass break-up while he was at it.
1st and 10: Harris (#8) is creeping down near the right side of the line. He takes an initial step forward on the snap before dropping back into coverage. The outside receiver on the left comes on a crossing route, bringing cornerback Patrick Surtain (#2) with him, to create traffic as the lone receiver on the right also comes on a crossing route. Harris doesn’t get confused and picks up the correct receiver. He avoids the traffic and closes on the receiver in time to help disrupt the pass and force the incompletion.
2nd and 3: Harris is in the middle to Shane Lee’s (#35) right, on the same side as the running back. Harris reads run and immediately shoots forward. By the time the running back has taken one step forward, Harris is already crossing the line of scrimmage. The H-back has no shot at blocking him, and Harris crushes the running back for a loss.
2nd and 5: Harris is the lone linebacker in the middle with Lee shaded over to the right. He reads run and charges toward the line. Harris smashes into Ben Bredeson (#74), the Michigan left guard. The freshman Harris is listed at 244lbs; the senior Bredeson is listed at 325lbs. And Harris just blows him up and sends him staggering back. He then joins Raekwon Davis (#99) in making the tackle.
2nd and 10: Harris is in the middle on the strong side. Michigan has a little bit going on with the center pulling to the right, a wide receiver motioning right to left, and the running back faking a step to the left. Harris never loses focus, however. He shows off that speed once more and shoots the gap; and the H-back, once more, has no shot at reaching Harris. It’s another tackle for a loss.