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Give a Tide
The game of college football has changed an incredible amount over the last twenty-five years. The game has evolved from a game played in the trenches to a game played in space. The big run stuffing defensive lineman that used to be three down necessities are now two down players at best. The same goes for a majority of the 240+ pound downhill linebackers. Pro-style offenses which were once the norm have given way to the spread, whether it be a run based spread or a passing based attack.
After watching Alabama's defense struggle greatly against teams that have both mobile quarterbacks and run the spread the last two seasons some have begun to wonder if the game is starting pass Nick Saban by. Against Ohio State it looked like it certainly has with him constantly trying to run personnel on and off the field to match the Buckeye's formation and personnel. Trey Depriest, Reggie Ragland and Denzel Devall were exposed for their lack of speed and quickness in the open field. A'Shawn Robinson, Brandon Ivory, Jarran Reed and Darren Lake were all made non-factors by Ohio State's emphasis on the perimeter.
Maybe just maybe the game is passing him by? Actually no, I don't believe it for one second. While Saban has been stubborn and slow to evolve he is going to go into adapt and survival mode this offseason. The primary change Saban will make is going to be with his defensive ends and his linebacking corp. Plain and simple, Alabama needs to get more speed on the field. With Trey DePriest graduating and Reuben Foster taking over at one middle linebacker position there will be a big speed upgrade. I would also expect guys like Rashaan Evans, Tim Williams and Christian Miller to get a lot more looks and have every opportunity to beat out the traditional “bigger bodies” like Reggie Ragland, Denzel Devall and Dillon Lee. Also at the defensive end position the Tide will likely emphasize athleticism over size putting an emphasis on guys like Jonathan Allen, D.J. Pettway and Da'Shawn Hand getting a majority of the snaps on the outside instead of Dalvin Tomlinson, Jarran Reed and Dee Liner.
Saban is very intelligent and he will evolve. He knows that if he doesn't teams like Georgia, Tennessee, Texas A&M, LSU and Auburn have the athletes to take advantage and he will continue to lose a couple games a year and that is not acceptable in Tuscaloosa.
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