Will Alabama’s Defense be Better in 2021?
Alabama ranked first in the SEC in points allowed per game and third in yards allowed last season. The Tide also led the conference in sacks, passes defended and fumble recoveries. And 247Sports Josh Pate believes the Crimson Tide will show improvement in 2021.
The defending national champions will lose key starters Patrick Surtain II, Christian Barmore and Dylan Moses, but they still return a ton of talent.
"Normally when you're talking about the NFL Draft loaded up with Bama guys, in years passed it meant a whole bunch of defensive guys and maybe a running back or two or something like," said Pate. "That's not the way it is anymore. It's a whole lot of offensive guys. And so now you're gonna have an exodus to the draft for the second year in a row and in some ways the 10th or 11th year in a row. But then I also look at defensive line and I look at edge rusher and along with that I look at linebacker and I look at secondary and I'm sitting here thinking are they upgraded. Are they equal to or better than last year's product at all three levels?"
Even with the loss of Barmore, Alabama will still have a lot of depth at defensive line. LaBryan Ray, Phil Mathis, D.J. Dale, Justin Eboigbe, Byron Young and Tim Smith all have the talent and experience to make an impact this season.
The Tide will have one of the nations top pass rushing duos. Will Anderson and Christopher Allen combined for 15 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss a season ago.
Christian Harris is now the man in charge of this Alabama defense. After an injury to Moses in fall camp, Harris was forced into action as a freshman in 2019 and had a breakout season in 2020. Jaylen Moody has patiently waited for his time and now the senior is ready to step into a starting role this season. Junior Shane Lee and sophomores Demouy Kennedy and Jackson Bratton give the Tide plenty of depth at the linebacker position.
Secondary figures to be the strength of this Alabama defense. Starters Jordan Battle, Josh Jobe and Malachi Moore are all back. DeMarcco Hellams or Daniel Wright will occupy the other safety spot beside Battle, both started multiple games last season. Brian Branch also started a number of games and was another key contributor as a true freshman last season.
As the game has evolved offensively to a more wide-open and fast paste attack, the days of holding to teams to nine points per game and under 200 yards is unrealistic. However, that doesn't mean Alabama still can't have a dominate defense.