Smart: Alabama defense needs to measure up to standard beyond topping national rankings

  • Article by: JOHN ZENOR , AP Sports Writer
  • Updated: August 4, 2013 - 2:55 PM

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coaches laid out the defensive stats from last season, but not in celebration of the nation's stingiest group.

The coaches used a team meeting to highlight the significant drop-off from the previous national championship edition — a year earlier. Being first isn't good enough when you're competing against yourself.

"They showed our stats from last season and pretty much we were first in the country," linebacker C.J. Mosley said at Sunday's team media day at Bryant-Denny Stadium. "But he compared us to the last two teams from Alabama and they had better stats than we did. At the end of the day we've got to make sure that we're being better than we were before and not better than other people."

Tough crowd. Sure, the Crimson Tide's 250 yards allowed a game led the nation, but that was 66.4 yards worse than 2011 for the two-time defending champions.

Points allowed, rushing defense and especially pass defense also took a step back. Alabama allowed 62 yards more on average through the air (173.6 from 111.5) in a secondary that featured top-10 NFL draft pick Dee Milliner.

The 2009 championship defense also was better in total and pass defense.

So the Tide has something to strive for in its pursuit of a third consecutive national title.

A defense that returns seven starters — including the All-American Mosley and safety HaHa Clinton-Dix — is hoping to reverse that statistical decline, whatever the national rankings indicate. Mosley said coach Nick Saban's message was "don't be satisfied."

"We kind of have a standard here at Alabama," defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said. "A lot of people think our standard is to be first in the SEC, be first in the country, first in our red zone and run defense. We really don't go by that motto.

"We go by, be the best Alabama defense there's been. We compare ourselves to the last five years of Alabama defenses. When you do that, last year's defense was not exactly up to par. Not exactly spectacular. We put in a lot of work to improve on defense."

There wasn't quite the same defensive talent exodus this go-around. Smart's 2012 group had to replace three first-rounders; this team lost only one. Even though 10 Tide defenders were drafted the past two years, that doesn't diminish the ambitions.

Nor does facing seven teams that employ hurry-up, no-huddle offenses.

Saban and Arkansas' Bret Beliemma have been vocal in their distaste for that style, saying it's an injury hazard for defenses that can't substitute.

Plus, the Tide's worst defensive moments came when faced with the brisk tempo last season. Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M racked up 187 yards and 20 points in the first quarter to hand Alabama its only loss, 29-24. Similarly speedy Mississippi, meanwhile, racked up marathon touchdown drives of 13 and 16 plays.

"We've studied a lot of teams in the offseason," Smart said. "A lot of NFL teams have come here to study fast tempo and running quarterbacks, which is kind of the new trend going forward. So we've been able to study with those guys for any ideas, try to create ways to give them negative plays.

"There's an upside and a downside to fast tempo because when teams go fast tempo, there's a lot of things they can't do at the line. We try to create an advantage for us by being able to give them negative plays, and I think if we can do that it can hurt them with their up tempo."

Saban said the Tide emphasized "fast-twitch" pass rushers in the latest recruiting class to keep up with the trend toward spread offenses.

Mosley said Alabama defenses are "all about ground and pound and hitting guys in the mouth, but we can finesse when we have to."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: D. Axelrod 7
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 3
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 4
Tampa Bay - LP: K. Yates 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 5
Atlanta - WP: M. Minor 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 1
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Danks 2
Minnesota - WP: A. Swarzak 11 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: B. Chen 5
Texas - LP: R. Mendez 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 4
Oakland - LP: R. Cook 3 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: F. Salas 4
Atlanta 24 FINAL
Jacksonville 14
Detroit 23 FINAL
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 35
Kansas City 14 FINAL
Green Bay 34
NY Jets 7 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
St. Louis 13 FINAL
Miami 14
Carolina 10 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
New England 13 FINAL
NY Giants 16
Washington 24 FINAL
Tampa Bay 10
Baltimore 22 FINAL
New Orleans 13
Chicago 13 FINAL
Cleveland 33
Denver 27 FINAL
Dallas 3
Minnesota 19 FINAL
Tennessee 3
San Francisco 40 FINAL
Houston 13
Arizona 9 FINAL
San Diego 12
Seattle 31 FINAL
Oakland 41
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pm
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pm
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. TBA
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Gophers in their season opener

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close