Monday, January 4, 2016

This Bama DL...

We've not seen anything like it before from the Saban era.

Out of curiosity I looked up the sack numbers for the 2015 season and was shocked by how many Tide DL (or DE/OLBs) had put up big time numbers. In particular they are capable of playing a four-man unit on pass downs consisting of Jonathan Allen (12 sacks), A'Shawn Robinson (3.5 sacks), Tim Williams (9.5 sacks), and Ryan Anderson (6 sacks).

Combined those four players managed to get 31 sacks this year. When you compare that total to the numbers posted by the best four DL or DE/OLB of any other Saban era you get a sense of how much improved this Tide pass-rush was over previous iterations.

Some of those units, such as the 2012 group or 2009 group, were at their best when blitzing a linebacker (Mosley in '12) or nickel (Arenas in '09) and not from simply utilizing basic four-man pressures or stunts.

The leap in two years from 2013's total of 13.5 sacks to this season's 31 is truly remarkable and a testament to how well Saban is starting to adjust the Tide roster to the demands of the spread era.

I think this is primarily attributable first to the emergence of Jonathan Allen as a dominant interior pass-rusher. That dude is blazing quick inside, he draws a ton of attention that can then no longer be sent outside to help the OTs, and many interior OL simply lack the hips and base to pick him up on a stunt.

It's also attributable to the fact that their DE/OLBs are more explosive this year than they've been in recent seasons. At 6'4" and 6'2" respectively, Williams and Anderson are also guys that are designed more for rushing the passer from a three point stance than playing all of the assignments typically asked of an Alabama 3-4 OLB.

It was only a matter of time before Saban stopped stockpiling as many interior DL and stout, run-stuffing LBs in order to also mix in some DBs and pass-rushers. Now we are starting to see the fruit of those efforts.

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