SEC Country is taking a look at two of the biggest question marks for Alabama heading into fall camp. On Tuesday, we broke down the Crimson Tide’s running back depth chart. The other big question is Alabama’s lack of depth along the defensive line.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Last season, Alabama’s depth on its defensive front was “almost perfect,” coach Nick Saban said. The Crimson Tide parlayed that to their fourth national championship in seven years.
“The diversity in players that we had on last year’s team was almost perfect for what you need in this day and age of football with the spread, with no huddle,” Saban said at SEC Media Days. “You need a lot of depth. You need a lot of athletic guys that can make plays in space, can rush the passer. And when you play some of the power teams in our conference, you need some bigger, more physical guys to stand in there. We kind of had all of those parts. I’m not sure we have all those parts this year, but certainly we’re working to try to develop them.”
Depth is an issue for the unit this season.
Alabama returns talented players up front. Jonathan Allen, who finished last season with 12 sacks, leads the group. Dalvin Tomlinson and Da’Shawn Hand should see more snaps this season. Both have star potential.
Da’Ron Payne, who played a major role as a true freshman last year, is ready for more responsibility.
But beyond that, things are murky. Alabama has players who could provide depth, but they are unknowns.
Joshua Frazier and Johnny Dwight should be ready to contribute. Freshmen Raekwon Davis and Quinnen Williams and junior college transfer Jamar King will get chances this season.
If Alabama’s defensive linemen don’t develop quickly, the Crimson Tide may have to rely more on their outside linebackers.
Linebackers Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson may be called upon to do more against the run.
Last season, Alabama let its specialists focus on their roles. Pass rushers could just rush the quarterback, while run stoppers concentrated on the ground game.
With the lack of depth this season, Alabama’s top players may have to take on more responsibility.
“It will be more challenging for us to create some different roles for some other guys who can sort of have a role so that these guys don’t have to play all of the downs in the game,” Saban said. “Because when we’ve had teams like that in the past, those guys aren’t fresh on third down, and it affects your ability to pass rush.”