Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Alabama Analysis: Tide set to release mean D-line in 2014

When it comes to solid and talented, look no further than Alabama's defensive front. While the Tide did lose two talented playmakers in the person of Jeoffrey Pagan and Ed Stinson, 'Bama has more than enough horses to carry the load this fall.

As is always the case with any team and specific group, health and depth will play a major role in terms of success. While Alabama does have some inexperience when it comes to various backup roles, the young men who are expected to be major contributors are no strangers to the Crimson Tide system.
Prominent players

Jonathan Allen
Brandon Ivory
Darren Lake
D.J. Pettway (Defensive end/Linebacker)
Jarran Reed
A'Shawn Robinson
Dalvin Tomlinson

Emerging talent

Josh Frazier (True Freshman)
Da'Shawn Hand (True Freshman)
Korren Kirven
Dee Liner
Anthony Orr

Departures from 2013

Dakota Ball (Moved to Tight End)
Wilson Love (Left the team)
Jeoffrey Pagan
Ed Stinson

Courtesy of offseason issues, and injuries during preseason camp, the Alabama defensive front, in respect to probable starters, was thrown for a loop. Nose guard Brandon Ivory, who was the primary starter in 2013, and JUCO transfer Jarran Reed, who was expected to fill a void at defensive end, were both suspended as preseason camp commenced.

Although Ivory and Reed have been reinstated, and have been on the practice field for a couple of weeks, Nick Saban has relegated them to a distant spot on the depth chart, at least for the time being.
On the injury front, A'Shawn Robinson has missed the bulk of camp due to a sprained knee. His status, in respect to the opening game of the season, is very much a question mark at this time.

In respect to the starters in Alabama’s base 3-4 defense, in terms of West Virginia, Darren Lake, D.J. Pettway, and Jonathan Allen will likely be the main trio. However, quite obviously, who will actually take the field for Alabama's first defensive snap is still a crapshoot. The injury to Robinson, coupled with the noted suspensions, have made 'Bama's starting front quite the mystery.
As for the backup line, expect Dalvin Tomlinson to fuel a hungry and talented second unit. Given Alabama’s defensive system, the Crimson Tide rely on a solid second-team due to heavy rotations; so many players will need to be prepared for game action at any moment. Before it all plays out, D.J. Pettway, for example, could very well find himself in the regular starting rotation.

In regards to true freshmen, the jury is out, and will possibly remain out for several weeks. The first note of business is which players, if any, will receive a redshirt. The second point of contention will be the rotation in regards to the aforementioned freshmen. Da'Shawn Hand is likely to contribute this season, but who really knows how things will play out at this point. Alabama has four and five-star talent across the board on the defensive line, but “star ratings” certainly don’t always equate to college playing time and success. Playing time is earned…not given.
As a whole, Alabama is stout on the defensive front. While the Crimson Tide will have to "mold and shape" in terms of building solid chemistry and rotation, virtually every team in the nation would love to have 'Bama's "problems" right about now.

Roll Spoiled Roll!

Unit rating: 9/10


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