Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Crimson Tide shows improvement in passing rushing

Bryce Denton

The Alabama defense has been making steady improvements in many aspects of its game throughout the season in pass coverage, run defense and forcing turnovers.

Two areas the Tide has shown particular improvement in has been its penetration at the line of scrimmage and passing rushing.

In Alabama’s first game against Michigan, the Tide defense only accumulated five tackles for loss and one sack and was not credited with a quarterback pressure on Denard Robinson. The following week against Western Kentucky, Alabama’s statistics improved in every category, with six tackles for loss, three sacks and four quarterback hurries.

It was against Arkansas, however, that the most growth was seen in the defense’s pass rushing abilities — 10 tackles for loss, three quarterback hurries and four sacks — putting Alabama at a total of 21 tackles for loss, seven quarterback hurries and eight sacks on the season.

This time last year, the Alabama defense only had 15 tackles for loss, four sacks and 11 quarterback hurries. Still, sophomore linebacker Adrian Hubbard said his team’s success in penetrating into opposing offenses’ backfields has only made his teammates play harder.

“This is football in the SEC,” Hubbard said. “Around here, Alabama’s assignment football, and you have to do your best at all times. Because someone’s waiting behind you to take your spot.”

“You have to go into it with a game plan. … We try to execute all our game plans the same way. You don’t want to be that guy that messes up, because that could be a touchdown or a big play.”

It seems as if Hubbard has taken his own message to heart, tying for second on the team with two tackles for loss and one sack. Hubbard’s play has not gone unnoticed by head coach Nick Saban, either.

“Adrian always has had real good pass rush ability,” Saban said. “He knows what he’s doing; he’s confident; he’s playing hard. He’s really an effective player, and he’s done a pretty good job in every one of the games so far.”

Still, Alabama’s pass rush has done more than simply terrorize opposing quarterbacks. It’s also helped Alabama’s offensive line in its own pass blocking skills. This was most evident in the Western Kentucky and Arkansas games, when it gave up six and zero sacks, respectively.

Sophomore Cyrus Kouandjio said going up against his own defense in practice every week has helped the offensive line tremendously with its pass blocking.

“They do that,” Kouandjio said. “They make us go one on one in practice every day, just so we don’t get too used to the scout team. They’re good.”

One of the things Kouandjio said made his defense’s pass rush so potent was the different playing styles of players like Hubbard and Xzavier Dickson. Between the two, they have two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss.

Hubbard echoed Kouandjio’s sentiments about his defense’s versatility in the pass rush, with six defensive players turning in at least one sack so far this season. Still, Hubbard said what makes his teammates truly great are not their differences, but the thing they all have in common.

“Our mindset’s the same,” Hubbard said. “We get out there, every play. Hard work is what I pride my guys on. Outside linebackers, those are my guys.”

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