“We built our team to beat LSU and power football teams like Georgia.”

Nick Saban discusses his change of approach in building his defense in the HUNH era, and it sounds awfully familiar.

“So when we played Texas A&M, we still had too many big slow guys out there that were good players in a certain type of game.”

Alabama’s recruiting strategy has shifted to finding more athletic defensive linemen who are capable of staying on the field for extended amounts of time. He listed Jonathan Allen, Dalvin Tomlinson and D.J. Pettway as recent examples.

The desire for more athleticism at outside linebacker, which traditionally plays at defensive end when Alabama goes to nickel or dime, is also apparent. Among the examples Saban listed at that position were Xzavier Dickson, Denzel Devall, Tim Williams and freshman Rashaan Evans.

“We need a guy or two like that so when we do play the LSUs of the world, we can really pound you on the line of scrimmage and hold up, but we need a lot of those other guys and that’s changing the recruiting,” Saban said. “You have to have more athletic linebackers who can play in space. You can’t match personnel all the time. You sometimes have got to play a nickel linebacker and you wish you could put six defensive backs in but you can’t get them in the game, and if you get them in the game, you can’t get them out.”

If you think of Todd Grantham as old Saban and Jeremy Pruitt as new Saban, doesn’t that sound like what we’re watching evolve in Athens?


Filed under Nick Saban Rules, Strategery And Mechanics

11 responses to ““We built our team to beat LSU and power football teams like Georgia.”

  1. Macallanlover

    This is a much better comment by Saban than his whining about the hurry up offenses, although that is a part of why he wants the ability to change personnel each play, if needed. It is a quandary every defense in CFB faces if they play in “mixed league”. UGA, LSU, Arky, SC, and Bama run power, pro-style offenses but A&M, Auburn, Ole Miss, and now TN are running some version of the spread and zone read offenses. The PAC12, Big 12, Mountain West, etc., conferences are much more wide open offensive leagues and they build their defenses to stop that type of action.

    I commented on this in the discussion about the Oregon/MSU matchup earlier this week, Michigan State is designed to play defense against the type of conference offenses they compete against most, they do not recruit or set defensive schemes for offenses like they will see tonight. It is why Saban has had problems with A&M since they joined the SEC and against Auburn with Cam and Marshall at QB. It is why Kiffin Sr. got his ass handed to him at TN and USC when he faced the “non NFL” action. And it is why Oregon’s defense has had problems stopping power running games in OOC play. Similar confusion, to a degree, when a triple option team like Ga Southern went into Tuscaloosa and put up almost 400 yards against that great Tide defense in 2012, but that is more schematic and technique than personnel.

    The overlords of the game are wrestling with the hurry up concept to promote balance, and they need to stay on top of it or we will have to resign ourselves to 80 total points per game, on average, in the future. They also need to step up to enforcing the offensive linemen downfield rule on run/pass option plays, Auburn has been getting away with cheating, again, due to slack enforcement. The game is becoming to much like basketball for me, and I am not advocating a return to Dooley-esque 13-9 games every week, just give the defense an opportunity to make stops often enough to make the confrontation interesting again. The 2013 SECCG is what I fear, over 100 point scored…..yikes!


    • gastr1

      They could decide that holding and blocking in the back are actual penalties, too, while we’re at it.


      • Mayor

        I watched the East Carolina-USCe game tonight and there literally was holding on every play by most of the USCe D-linemen. There was also hold by ECU O-linemen but whenever necessary to preserve a USCe victory the SEC refs called it on ECU, although most of the time it was ignored, too. The officials in that game were bad, IMHO, particularly the Referee.


  2. Yeah, it does. Like we’ve wondered on here, Saban seems to think you need some of both, so you can play the spread and still be able to switch styles and stop teams like “LSU and power teams like Georgia.”

    Which makes me wonder about Mayes, because I don’t recall seeing him in the Clemson game. We have Atkins, who’s coming along well, but need at least two big guys that can play the middle when we match up against power teams.

    We don’t play many power teams anymore, there’s us in the East (and maybe SC?) and LSU, Alabama, & Arkansas in the West. Arkansas will likely test us (let’s hope that’s all that happens that day), and we could possibly see LSU or Bama in the SECCG.

    We don’t have to play ourselves, which leads to another thought .. don’t you guys love it that our offensive system contains both HUNH-spread and power? And most anything, at any speed, in between? And we can comfortably switch from one to the other on the fly? I certainly do. Who else can do that?

    If you think of Todd Grantham as old Saban …

    Can’t do it. Can’t stretch the brain that far. The analogy is good but can’t think of Todd Grantham and Nick Saban at the same time, in the same way.

    Saban is a good college football coach, produces fundamentally sound defenses who are well-taught and well-prepared, and is a good developer of talent. Grantham is none of those things.


    • AthensHomerDawg

      Toddie made Kentucky look like a power offense in 2012. Special teams player had to save us in the end after Murray carried us most of the game.


  3. H. Boots

    No because I’d argue that Grantham’s defense was particularly bad against power offense like Alabama runs.


  4. Bulldog jay

    Using Grantham and saban in a positive way in the same sentence is just not right.


  5. charlottedawg

    If old Saban = Todd Grantham, he wouldn’t have kept his job long enough for there to be a new Saban.


  6. Athens Townie

    Great observations. Sounds very familiar indeed.