Alabama’s defense is looking to repeat its performance from last week, when it held the No. 20 USC Trojans to just six points. This week will be a new animal, though, as the Crimson Tide will have to defend a Western Kentucky team that runs a fast-paced offense and finished second in all of college football last season at 44.3 points per game.
“I think as you look at college football and you see teams that get upset early in the season, it’s probably because they don’t have the proper respect for their opponent,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban. “In this case, [Western Kentucky] was a top-25 team a year ago and no reason they won’t be a top-25 this year once it’s all said and done.”
A fast-paced offense is nothing new to some members of the Crimson Tide defense that played teams like Texas A&M and Clemson last season.
“I miss the old football days when you could take your time to line up and play. We’ve been working hard though. I feel like we are prepared for it,” defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson said. “We have been working all offseason, because last year we played a lot of fastball teams like Clemson and all those teams. We’ve been progressing more and more every practice. I feel like we are well versed with it now.”
Getting pressure on the quarterback will be important for the defense. Western Kentucky quarterback Mike White threw for 517 yards and three touchdowns against Rice last week in a 46-14 win.
Production from the outside linebacker position will be important, as Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams combined for seven tackles and a sack last weekend.
“I think it’s important, as I talked about before, especially on third down pass rushers, that they can be fresh on third down,” Saban said. “So that means on the other downs in the game we need to have some people that can play those downs. And that’s what we’re going to try and do. Hopefully we can rotate enough guys in there to keep those guys fresh.”
Rotating linebackers and the rest of the front seven will not only ensure a rested defense, it will also help the Crimson Tide share game experience with its younger players.
When younger guys enter the game on both sides of the ball, perhaps for the first time inside the confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium, they will need to focus on the task at hand.
“I think our players need to understand that how you play in games like this, if things don’t go well, that’s basically what you get remembered by. They’ll be asking you 20 years from now, ‘How’d you guys lose that game?’ ” Saban said.
Saban also expects the home-field advantage to help the Crimson Tide on defense. It will be the first game since Nov. 21, 2015 that Alabama will play at home.
“I know our players are always excited to play in Bryant-Denny. We have great fans. It’s a great atmosphere,” Saban said. “I really do think it’s a huge advantage for our team if their offense has to work against noise and has to go on silent, and it helps us with the snap count indicator. I’ll be harping about that all week long, so hopefully our fans will respond to that.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports