Getting home: The Alabama front seven continues to menace opposing passers.By Matt Speakman | 10/26/2015 7:08pm
They are what people have been talking about all year when referring to Alabama. The defensive line and pass rushing linebacker depth for the Crimson Tide is easily one of the best in all of college football.
Anchored by Jarran Reed and A’shawn Robinson, the pass rush has been absolutely dismantling quarterbacks, with 27 team sacks in eight games for an average of 3.38 sacks per game. The pass rush has caused teams to lose 161 yards this year. Outstanding defensive end Jonathon Allen leads the team in sacks with six, causing the opponent to lose 46 yards.
Alabama’s pass rush has been able to use its outstanding depth to its advantage in the pass rush. Fourteen different players have posted sacks this season, with eight of those having more than one. The success rushing the passer has the Crimson Tide ranked sixth in the NCAA in total team sacks.
Alabama has adopted a special, third-down package that is vintage Kirby Smart. The package brings on pass-rushing specialists Da’Shawn Hand, Rashaan Evans and Tim Williams. Speed off the edge has caused multiple quarterback hurries as well as sacks. Combined, these three players have 9 sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss, and 5 quarterback hurries (they don't even start).
If one looks at the pass rush game by game, they can see that it has been consistent throughout this entire season. In just the last two games, Alabama has sacked the quarterback 11 times, resulting in the opponent losing 61 yards.
Before its matchup on Oct. 17, Texas A&M had not allowed more than 3.0 sacks in a game (Alabama recorded six). Tennessee, who had also not allowed more than 3.0 sacks heading into the Alabama game, saw the Crimson Tide bring down Josh Dobbs five times.
Alabama has also been able to get unprecedented pressure from its defensive backs, with freshmen Ronnie Harrison and Minkah Fitzpatrick adding 3.0 combined sacks. Kirby smart has started to disguise defensive back blitzes, much like the schemes he used with former cornerback Javier Arenas to bring pressure from all angles.
The pass rush has had a number of balls batted down at the line of scrimmage as well. Defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson has recorded six pass break-ups while rushing the passer, while fellow defensive linemen Reed, Robinson and Allen have combined for seven pass defenses. The defensive pass rush has been able to either pressure the quarterback, or stop him from throwing it at all.
The increased pressure from defensive lineman like Reed, Robinson (who has eight quarterback hurries) and Allen has really helped set the tone for this Alabama defense. Pressuring the quarterback has forced good quarterbacks to make bad decisions under pressure, much like what we saw in the Texas A&M game.
If Alabama’s pass rush can continue to post these impressive numbers, then they will be able to shut a lot of opponents down for the rest of the season.