Alabama hasn’t had many discrepancies at any particular position to begin the 2022 season. In recent years, several positional groups struggled. This season has been an adjustment for quarterback Bryce Young as three of his top wide receivers (John Metchie III, Jameson Williams, Slade Bolden) departed for the NFL.
He has to develop chemistry with the incoming wide receivers. There have been some miscues with being on the same page. However, that comes with a new group at the wide receiver position. That will likely lessen as the season progresses.
The defense has played well throughout the first three weeks of the season. Coach Golding and the rest of the defensive staff have been trying to establish some depth at each position. That will be very valuable as the season goes along.
Roll Tide Wire will look at some of the areas of concern heading into Alabama’s Week 4 matchup against Vanderbilt.
Limiting the rushing attack
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Through the first three weeks of the season, Alabama’s defense has done a solid job of stopping the run. However, they will be tasked with limiting Vanderbilt running back Ray Davis. Davis averages 5.5 yards per carry and has also rushed for 385 yards so far this season. The Commodores lean heavily on the run game. The defensive line will need to step up and make some pivotal stops during this game.
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It wasn’t much of an issue last weekend against a SunBelt opponent in the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks. However, the discipline from two weeks ago against Texas is concerning. The Tide was penalized for almost 100 yards during that game. If Alabama wants to play to the standard, the team will need to eliminate careless mistakes and be more disciplined.
Interior defensive line presence
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Through three weeks, Alabama’s edge rushers have caused the majority of the pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. That needs to be fixed. The interior defensive line needs to step up as the Tide enters conference play this weekend. Most teams that Alabama will play will be focused on neutralizing both Will Anderson and Dallas Turner. Texas did that in Week 2 and had success for most of the game. Other teams will use that strategy with hopes that the interior is unable to win in 1-on-1s. Players like DJ Dale, Byron Young, Tim Smith, and Justin Eboigbe need to create some pressure against Vanderbilt in Week 4.
Stopping the Commodores' dual-threat quarterback
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Vanderbilt’s quarterback will be freshman AJ Swann. The Georgia native will be making his first start under center in a hostile environment in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Typically, Alabama struggles to contain dual-threat quarterbacks. That is the case with Swann. The Tide doesn’t have a lot of film on him and it could cause some miscues early on in the game. Ultimately, the defense will have to learn on the fly. It is a concern leading into the game.
Giving Bryce Young enough time in the pocket to extend drives
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Alabama’s biggest issue so far has been giving Bryce Young the time to extend plays. Through the first three games, Young has been under duress more often than not. Vanderbilt’s defense has tallied seven sacks so far this season, so the offensive line could be put to the test. Alabama’s offense thrives when Young is able to extend drives through the air. It will be essential for the line to sustain blocks and allow Young to make things happen downfield.