Expectations are higher than ever for Alabama defensive coordinator Pete Golding’s defense this season. All eyes will be on that side of the ball as nine starters return from a year ago. This could very well be one of the best Alabama defenses in the Nick Saban era.
Players like Henry To’o’To’o, Will Anderson, Jordan Battle and Dallas Turner are several of the key returning starters from last season. All four will be called on in Alabama’s efforts to return to the College Football Playoff. They will have to set the tone early in their Week 2 matchup against an ascending Texas football program that is led by head coach Steve Sarkisian.
The Longhorns are fresh off of a 52-10 victory against Louisiana-Monroe. They are coached well and have a valiant air attack. Although they had a rough season in 2021, they could present some challenges for Alabama. Roll Tide Wire takes a look at Alabama’s defensive keys to victory in the Week 2 matchup with the Texas Longhorns.
Putting pressure on Quinn Ewers
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Last week, Alabama’s defensive line was able to make seventh-year quarterback Logan Bonner very uncomfortable. The Aggies could not find any rhythm on the offensive side of the ball. Two players in particular that will need to put pressure on quarterback Quinn Ewers are edge rushers Dallas Turner and Will Anderson. Last week, Alabama had zero sacks and that is partially due to the Aggies getting the ball out quickly. However, it is essential that the defensive line steps up in the Week 2 matchup against the Longhorns.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Last week, the Crimson Tide wasn’t able to create any turnovers. This weekend it will be pivotal that the defense forces the Longhorns’ offense into turning the ball over. With a redshirt freshman at quarterback, Alabama could very well rattle the opposing offense early and often with the depth that they have in the secondary. I would look for one or two turnovers on Saturday as Alabama will definitely be ready to make a statement.
Slow down Bijan Robinson
Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
The Longhorns have leaned on the running game ever since Bijan Robinson arrived on campus. Nothing has changed as head coach Steve Sarkisian is dependent upon Robinson to provide his offense some juice. Alabama’s defense will have to minimize Robinson’s impact on the game. It is crucial that they slow him down. That would make the Longhorns’ offense one-dimensional.
Preventing chunk plays
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Alabama had problems last season allowing chunk plays in the back end of their defense. This season will need to be different for Alabama’s defense to live up to expectations. Texas has playmakers in Jordan Whittington, Xavier Worthy, and Agiye Hall. It is key that Alabama’s secondary is on their A-game on Saturday.
Get off the field on third downs
(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
It is hard to beat an Alabama team that can get stops on third downs. In the past, Alabama has done a decent job of getting off the field and forcing the opposing team to punt. In week two’s matchup with Texas, they will need to do the same. The Longhorns have a high-potent offense led by former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. He knows Alabama’s tendencies on defense as he worked alongside defensive coordinator Pete Golding in Tuscaloosa. Golding and the Alabama defense will need to prevent the Longhorns from converting on third downs.