Alabama used to be a byword for the most dominating defense in all of college football. The Crimson Tide are still the team to beat each year in the SEC, but now they dominate in a new fashion compared to the start of Nick Saban's tenure. Gone are the days of low-scoring slugfests, with a stout defense, game-managing quarterback, and a hard-running tailback. Now, Alabama is better known for their aerial attack, led this year by Mac Jones and Devonta Smith, and the ability to score points in bunches. After all those years of the Alabama offense playing second fiddle and complementary football to the defense, it is now the defense's turn to be overshadowed by a record setting offense.
Last season was an extreme example of this role reversal. A young Alabama defense, decimated by injuries, struggled mightily at times last year. At the end of the season, Alabama's defense was clearly the worst defense during Nick Saban's tenure in Tuscaloosa. All of those young defenders who were thrown into the fire last season due to injuries have now helped this year's edition of the Alabama defense take a step forward. While it is still Mac Jones and his arsenal of playmakers on offense who steal the headlines each week, the defense has taken the next step forward from last year to make this year's Crimson Tide team even more formidable.
Statistically speaking, the Alabama defense has developed into one of the better units in the SEC as this season progresses. Led by players such as linebacker Dylan Moses and cornerback Patrick Surtain, the Crimson Tide are only allowing 19.3 points per game and 359.1 yards per game. One area in which Alabama has struggled has been in getting pressure on the opposing quarterback. Alabama has only recorded 11 sacks in seven games played.
However, when the offense is one of the top in the nation scoring 49.4 points every outing, the defense is still regarded as the weak link on this talented Alabama squad. Unfortunately for the rest of the league, that weak link is still a force to be reckoned with each and every week.
The Auburn Tigers had a rough start to the season, not to mention the year. A worldwide pandemic has put a damper on the collegiate season as a whole, and to add onto that their star player was forced to sit for 11 games. But with Sharife Cooper finally on the court, what has he brought to the table for the Tigers?