Chris Kirschner/SEC Country
Alabama's defense isn't scared of LSU's running game.

Alabama football: Crimson Tide is either really good or really scared

Welcome to The Rammer Jammer, SEC Country’s daily Alabama athletics recap. Today, we look at the first day of SEC Media Days and the resulting bulletin board material.

Not even one full day into the “season,” and the bulletin board material is flowing.

The latest evidence of Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide living rent-free in the collective Louisianan head came courtesy of running back Derrius Guice, who doubled down on his ‘Alabama is scared’ narrative. Guice doesn’t really merit a rebuttal, and I think the impact of bulletin board material is overrated, but he’s asking for it and I have a column, so there.

According to Guice, Alabama is scared because the Crimson Tide stack the box against the run. He would know, because he’s carried the ball twice against Alabama in his career. Leaving aside the fact that stacking the box to defend the run against a team that hasn’t had a quarterback since JaMarcus Russell is more what’s known as “good strategy” than “being scared.” Alabama doesn’t really stack the box against run-first teams.

Alabama operates out of a nickel defense, with a fifth defensive back, the vast majority of the time. Against run-heavy teams, it will spend more time in its so-called base, bringing in the typical linebacker to plug the holes in the front seven. Alabama’s front is typically aggressive enough to enable it to leave its defensive backs in place, with the exception of a few safety blitzes here and there. Alabama almost never blitzes from the cornerback position.

Where Guice may be confused is the aggression of Alabama’s safeties — particularly the “strong safety.” Alabama’s defensive backs are coached to plug a specific gap in a specific defense if they read a run play, and LSU’s play action is hardly misleading enough to freeze the safeties. Other teams — such as Ole Miss and Auburn — are much more adept at holding those safeties deep. But when nobody thinks your quarterback can make the over-the-middle pass on time, or throw it over the safety’s head, there’s no reason to doubt.

So yeah, when Guice is the running back in the Alabama-LSU game this season, he probably will be stopped at the line by a safety. And a linebacker. And a lineman. And another linebacker. And when Alabama holds the best running back in the draft to historically low yards, again, it won’t be motivated by fear.

ICYMI

Where did this talk about Alabama — LSU being historic rivals come from? Certainly, the two teams are rivals now by virtue of being the two best teams in the SEC and the Saban issue. But before 2007, Alabama–LSU wasn’t a rivalry game any more than Alabama–Mississippi State being a “rivalry” game. Until 2003, LSU had never strung together more than two wins against Alabama and had only 19 wins in 67 games.

  • For talk from a real historic rival, Butch Jones touched on the 10-year losing streak to Alabama.

Built by Bama

• Greg McElroy will launch a new show on the SEC Network this fall. Thinking Out Loud will be a player-focused X’s and O’s show that airs on Mondays at 6 p.m. CT, hosted by the former Alabama quarterback and LSU alumnus Marcus Spears.

• The Sun Sentinel in Miami, Fla., named former Alabama man and current restauranteur Bob Baumhower the greatest defensive tackle in Dolphins history. 

• And Tom Lovelady got some new custom clubs.

A hype video for the road

Featuring Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Simple Man.

Day 2 at SECMD should be relatively docile from an Alabama point of view, with Florida, Georgia, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State taking over the talking rights.

Miss a previous edition? Find every installment of SEC Country’s daily Alabama newsletter right here.