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Jumbo Package: Nick Saban will look to bolster Alabama’s inconsistent run defense

A new coach and more recruits just might do the trick

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

Isaia Faga, three-star defensive lineman from Central High School in Phenix City, Alabama, has flipped his commitment from Utah to Alabama. The in-state player took an official visit with Alabama on June 9-11. He returned for an unofficial visit on Friday, and decided it was the right time to reveal a final choice.

Alabama had high interest for several months. He received an offer from Nick Saban during a March 4 Junior Day visit in Tuscaloosa. He built relationships with the coaches led by defensive line coach Freddie Roach and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.

Faga connected really well with Coach Roach during the visit a few weekends ago. The 6-foot-2, 285-pounder is viewed as one who can play multiple positions on the defensive front.

As a 3-star guy, Faga is unlikely to move the needle with most Alabama fans. However, this is exactly the type of recruiting timeline that gets me interested. A 3 star guy committed to a smaller program all of a sudden flips to commit to Alabama in June, after Saban and crew have time to see him in camp? That tends to mean he’s someone that the coaches feel strongly about.

Hopefully, he’ll help bolster the run defense in the future, because, as this Ole Miss article just pointed out, the Tide could use some more consistency in that department:

There was a lot to be desired in Alabama’s boom-or-bust rush defense a season ago. In seven games last year, the Tide held opponents to less than 80 yards, but in the other six, the opposition ran for at least 180 yards and two touchdowns in each contest.

I knew the Tide had some bad games on rushing defense last year, but I didn’t realize that it was that frequent, nor that diametrically opposed from the other 7 games. I even went and fact-checked this article after that, and, sure enough, Alabama’s defense either shut down the opposing team for less than 80 yards, or just got eviscerated. And there was no in between.

Maybe the issue is a team that let things snowball when it went bad? I’m no psychologist. But it does feel like a collective mentality issue moreso than a personnel or even scheme issue.

Is this something we see get fixed with Kevin Steele coming in at DC? Remains to be seen, of course, but I’m hopeful.

Like Moore, Tim Smith has shown flashes of being a dominating defender for Alabama but has yet to put it together on a consistent basis. With Byron Young and DJ Dale now in the NFL, 2023 could be the season for Smith to have his breakout season.

Part of that has to come from the defensive line really stepping up. Byron Young made a splash play or sometimes two each game, but other than that, the rest of the line was mostly a non-impact.

Tim Smith was a 5-star guy who got on the field early as a freshman, but has never really jumped up to start making impact plays. Now in his 4th year, it’s time.

Moving to other sports, Alabama got two pieces of great news for the men’s basketball team yesterday.

Alabama’s men’s basketball program has made yet another big addition via the NCAA Transfer Portal.

Two months after landing guards Aaron Estrada and Latrell Wrightsell in a two-day span (April 22-23), Bama picked up highly sought-after forward Grant Nelson. Nelson informed Jeff Goodman of his plans to transfer to Alabama on Wednesday. Matt Norlander of CBS Sports also reported Nelson told him of his commitment.

The North Dakota State big man was the highest-rated uncommitted basketball transfer prior to joining forces with the Tide.

Nate Oats says freshman forward Mo Dioubate will be able to take the court during the 2023-24 season.

The 4-star signee out of the 2023 class was seen in a knee brace and on crutches earlier this month, prompting speculation about his health and availability for the upcoming season. Alabama’s head coach put any long-term concerns to rest on Wednesday when he told several reporters that Dioubate will be able to play as a freshman. He had arthroscopic knee surgery on his left knee after going through his medical, but is expected to make a full recovery.

Roll Tide! Nelson is a HUGE addition for the Tide as a true offensive threat as a big man, and Dioubate is an exciting developmental wing guy. It’s going to be a totally new-look team for Nate Oats this year, but with the amount of talent, both freshman and veteran, coming in, it could be a very strong team yet again.