TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Prior to last season, Alabama finished in the top-25 nationally in sacks just one time since 2008.
It was 2012 when Alabama tied for 16th nationally with 35 sacks.
Other than that season, Alabama ended the year ranked 29th or lower nationally in total sacks.
Alabama obliterated that 2012 total with 52 sacks during last season’s national championship run.
Now, Alabama is on track to lead the nation in sacks in back-to-back seasons.
It helps to have supremely talented pass rushers like Tim Williams, Jonathan Allen, Ryan Anderson, Dalvin Tomlinson and others.
It also helps when those guys are competing against each other to get to the opposing quarterback.
“I got to get to them before Tim or Jon does, or Dalvin,” Anderson said. “It’s a race, man. It’s a race. You know you got to hit your move, you got to get off. You got to do it before those guys do it if you want to get the sack.”
Last season, Alabama’s defensive front depth helped its sack numbers. Alabama was able use Allen, Williams and Anderson as pass rushing specialists, and all three posted big sack totals.
Allen finished second in the SEC with 12 sacks, only a half sack behind Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett. Williams was right behind Allen with 10.5 sacks. Anderson added 6 sacks.
This year, those guys are playing more full-time roles, but are still managing to sack the quarterback just as often.
Before Allen and Williams did it last season, Alabama had one player finish the year with double-digit sacks (Wallace Gilberry had 10 in 2007).
Allen (7), Williams (7) and Anderson (5.5) are all on track to reach 10 sacks depending on how many games Alabama plays this year.
“I feel like the things we work on in the offseason, the drills we do, the players are always great here,” Tomlinson said of the pass rush. “Everybody here is pretty much a good pass rusher. We always work on converting from run to pass rush because we have to stop the run first.
“Over time, just keep repping it in practice and everyone on the defensive front becomes a better pass rusher.”
Given the total of 37 sacks through 9 games and the average of 4 sacks per game, Alabama is on pace to surpass 60 sacks as a team if the Tide is able to make the SEC Championship Game and College Football Playoff. Dating back to 2008, the most sacks a team has finished with is 57 by Stanford in 2012.
A look at Alabama’s sack numbers over the years
2016 – No. 1 nationally with 37 (through 9 games)
Tim Williams: 7 (tied 22nd nationally)
Jonathan Allen: 7 (tied 22nd nationally)
Ryan Anderson: 5.5
Dalvin Tomlinson: 3
2015 – No. 1 nationally with 52
Jonathan Allen: 12 (No. 2 in SEC)
Tim Williams: 10.5 (No. 3 in SEC)
Ryan Anderson: 6 (tied No. 14 in SEC)
Rashaan Evans: 4 (tied for No. 24)
2014 – Tied 40th nationally with 31 sacks
Xzavier Dickson: 9
Jonathan Allen: 5
Ryan Anderson: 3
2013 – Tied 80th nationally with 22 sacks
A’Shawn Robinson: 5.5
No other player had more than 3
2012 – Tied 16th nationally with 35 sacks
Adrian Hubbard: 7
C.J. Mosley: 4
2011 – Tied 29th with 30 sacks
Courtney Upshaw: 9.5
Nick Gentry: 4.5
Dont’a Hightower: 4
2010 – Tied 49th with 27 sacks
Courtney Upshaw: 7
Marcell Dareus: 4.5
2009 – Tied 29th with 31 sacks
Marcell Dareus: 6.5
Javier Arenas: 5
Eryk Anders: 5
2008 – Tied 55th with 25 sacks
Bobby Greenwood: 5
Brandon Deaderick: 4
2007— Wallace Gilberry had 10 sacks