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Alabama’s No.1 goal is improve against up-tempo offenses

Alabama Spring Game

Johnny Manziel must haunt the dreams of Alabama head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.

The former Heisman Trophy winner terrorized the normally stout Alabama defense the past two seasons. While Manziel’s play-making ability was off the charts, his production was also the by-product of Texas A&M’s spread offense and up-tempo attack.

When Alabama faced Auburn and Oklahoma during the last two games of the season, the defense struggled against other up-tempo offenses that operated completely different from one another.

During those three games, Alabama surrendered 128 points and 1,450 total yards.

As a result, the Crimson Tide’s No. 1 goal this off season was improving against the varied offenses they’ll face this season and be adequately prepared for each.

“It’s definitely challenging, because you don’t face that kind of offense daily,” Smart Smart told coachingsearch.com. “It’s not who we are, offensively. You spend time simulating that in different ways, whether it’s the scout team or your offense, but you can never simulate it as good as a hurry-up team that does it. As far as recruiting, we try to get the best players we can, regardless of size or type of guy. Obviously, you’re going to have to beat LSU in our league, you’re going to have to beat Auburn, you’re going to have to beat Texas A&M.

“(There are) good teams in our league, especially our side, so you’ve got to have enough players that you can play every style of football. That’s obviously what our goal is. One of the No. 1 goals of this fall camp is to improve on that. There’s a lot of ways to improve on that, whether it’s being in shape, cutting weight so you can play more snaps. You’re going to have to play more people, so you have to have more depth. There are a lot of things we can do to improve on that and try to play those style of offenses better.”

The Crimson Tide’s defense has continually been one of college football’s best under Smart’s supervision. Yet, there is an inherent flaw in the composition of their scheme. Saban and Smart prefer bigger and more physical defensive linemen, linebackers and cornerbacks to physically overwhelm offenses. In doing so, the system sacrifices athleticism and speed in certain areas. Thus, teams like Texas A&M can attack the edges of the defense and prove to be successful.

Alabama continues to recruit some of the best overall athletes in the country. Smart and Saban will need to find new and creative ways to take advantage of this type of talent so the defense won’t struggle quite as much against spread offenses that love to vary the pace.

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16 Responses to “Alabama’s No.1 goal is improve against up-tempo offenses”
  1. Heart To Heart says: Aug 3, 2014 8:14 PM

    Alabama usually does a good job adapting to what has hurt them in the past. Kirby Smart may have some new players that can take up the slack.

  2. overratedgators says: Aug 3, 2014 8:30 PM

    Guess Nick finally realized he wasn’t going to be able to slow down the game by sneaking through his stupid rule changes. The crybaby has now accepted that he’s just going to have to figure out how to evolve. Bout time.

  3. Deb says: Aug 3, 2014 8:43 PM

    Can’t speak for the team, but as a fan, I’m not at all haunted by Manziel. He was a tiny bump in the road on our way to another championship. Like most Bama fans, I’m haunted by the final play of last year’s Iron Bowl and embarrassed by our performance in the Sugar Bowl.

    But these things happen in football. No team wins every year. I’m confident that as long as defenses are allowed to play a reasonable facsimile of DEFENSE without having to coddle the offense too much, they’ll be able to handle the current up-tempo offenses just as they handled the run-and-shoot, the wildcat, and all the other novelties of the past.

  4. Deb says: Aug 3, 2014 8:49 PM

    overratedgators …

    Contrary to widespread opinion, Saban didn’t propose that rule change, but whether he did or didn’t, it’s idiotic for anyone to talk about defensive coaches accepting that they’ll have to evolve. They’ve already adapted to playing the game without being able to touch the marquee players who aren’t supposed to get their uniforms dirty. Bless their lil hearts.

  5. succulentnipples says: Aug 3, 2014 8:57 PM

    Should also try to improve against physical defenses and hard nipples across the board.

  6. dcroz says: Aug 3, 2014 9:18 PM

    Saban and Smart are trying to adapt their defensive schemes to match up better with up-tempo offenses, but the hiring of Lane Kiffin as OC shows that Saban has also come to realize that another way to deal with them is to have a potent offense of your own. The 1961 Alabama defense gave up 25 points ALL SEASON and shutout eight of 11 opponents on the way to its first poll-era national title; the Tide gave up 42 to A&M in winning in College Station last year, and was still one of the nation’s top-rated units. The time may yet come when we look with awe upon defenses that surrendered less that 14 points per game for a whole season as we enter an era where 49-42 games become more and more common. Saban still wants his defense to be harder on opposing offenses than ten miles in a new pair of shoes, but he knows that he has to evolve on both sides of the ball if he wants to continue his run of success in Tuscaloosa.

  7. huskerzfan says: Aug 3, 2014 9:48 PM

    What most people are forgetting are the rules changes that were made back in 2008 by instituting the 40 second play clock as opposed to the old 25 second play clock.

    The 40 second clock pushed the spotting of the ball sooner by reducing dead time between the end of plays and the spotting of the ball.

    This rule was in an attempt to shorten football games. At first it worked, until coaches found that fast break offenses could push the extreme of making as many snaps as possible in the shortest period of time and thus tiring defenses to their advantage.

    Without that rule change in 2008, the hurry up offenses simply wouldn’t exist in college football today. The reality is, a change in the rules would take football back to how it used to be played for well over 100 years.

    The oddest part of that rule change, is that instead of shortening games, the games are now longer compared to the times of games back in 2007 and 2008. The intent of the rule has been a complete 180 of its proposal, while introducing a completely new element to the game that never existed.

  8. chowciao2014 says: Aug 3, 2014 11:21 PM

    Saban is the finest coach in college football. Anybody who thinks that Big Nick can’t stop a “hurry up offense”, is totally in denial. Watch Alabama this season and learn.

  9. brownsmakemecrazy says: Aug 4, 2014 8:24 AM

    i think thats a good goal for Bama. The best coach in college football will adjust to it.

  10. sfsugator says: Aug 4, 2014 10:21 AM

    who is running bamas offense this year? that’s what they should be worried about. good luck

  11. rolltide510 says: Aug 4, 2014 11:05 AM

    Alabama: Still the gold standard in provoking terrible sadness from comments sections everywhere.

  12. rolltide510 says: Aug 4, 2014 11:08 AM

    Who is signing Will Muschamp’s paychecks this year? That’s what gators should be worried about. Good luck.

  13. imaduffer says: Aug 4, 2014 11:33 AM

    Coach Saban is going to require his massive defensive linemen to take the class “The Art of Flopping 101, When, Where and How.

  14. Deb says: Aug 4, 2014 3:39 PM

    @imaduffer …

    Interesting you should say that since it’s up-tempo Auburn that taught The Art of Flopping last season.

  15. imaduffer says: Aug 4, 2014 5:10 PM

    @Deb,

    Auburn also taught the Tide NOT to put a bunch of fat guys on special teams. I still laugh every time I watch the replay of the winning score.

  16. Deb says: Aug 4, 2014 7:08 PM

    Actually, those fat guys are called offensive lineman. I think Saban learned to actually put DBs on the field.

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