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?