AFC South rivals ‘not going anywhere’ after ‘siege’ of Alabama
ALABAMA — The rivalry between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Crimson Tide Dime is still alive, but the battle for supremacy has become a “siege,” said Alabama head coach Nick Saban.
The rivalry is so intense that we’re not going anywhere.
It’s the best rivalry in college football, but it’s also one of the most difficult.
Saban has been a defensive coach for nine years at Alabama and has seen his team take a series of hits and come out on top.
The Crimson Tide have been at or near the top of the SEC in the past few years.
They were ranked in the top 10 in both of Saban’s first two seasons, then took a step back in 2016.
This year, Alabama has been in the mix for national titles.
Saban was in his second year in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, when he took the Tide to the Sugar Bowl in his first season in the SEC.
He had the Tide up 22-0 in the first half before the Bulldogs came back and tied it at 16 late in the third quarter.
The Tide got a first down and scored the go-ahead touchdown.
“It was a great first quarter and then we lost a lot of yards and had to come back and play some good defense,” Saban said of the Crimson Aces win.
A few things we’ve learned this year.
We’ve got to play better defense.
We’re going to have to stop the run better.
We can’t let them run the ball all the time.
We have to get better.
It’s the first time we’ve been in this situation.
The pressure’s been there, and we’ve got the talent.
But we’ve just got to get that first down, and the pressure’s gone, and it’s time to start winning.
“The Tide are in the process of rebuilding their defense.
They lost starting cornerback Darrin Walls to a torn ACL last season and are dealing with a rash of injuries.
They also lost two starting linebackers, starting offensive tackle Landon Collins and cornerback T.J. Clemmings, in the off-season.
Alabama is expected to have three new starters on defense: Linebacker T.T. Walton, safety Derrick Harvey and cornerback Tyvon Branch.
Walton is the only returning starter, and he’ll be joining a group of Alabama defensive backs that include Tashaun Gipson, Anthony Johnson, Michael Smith and D’Anthony Thomas.
With Walton back in the lineup, Alabama’s secondary will have to rely on safety Tashawn Bowers, who was suspended for two games last season for violating the league’s drug policy.
Alabama also lost safety Rashad Johnson to a hamstring injury in the preseason.
Bowers is a physical safety and will have an opportunity to step in and play in this season’s opener against South Carolina.
Bowers said he was eager to start. “
He’s going to be the guy that’s going, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m ready to play,'” Saban said, “but he’s also going to do it the right way.”
Bowers said he was eager to start.
“I’m excited to get out there,” Bowers said.
“And I’m looking forward to playing with the guys that we have, that we’ve gotten to know and just being out there in the world of football.”
Alabama’s defense has had some issues in recent seasons.
The Crimson Tide finished with the worst passing efficiency in the country in 2016, which was down to the sixth-best mark in the nation.
Saban will have a difficult task adjusting to a defense that’s already losing players like wide receiver Kevin King, defensive end Kevin King Jr., cornerback Trevon Coley, offensive tackle Jordan Williams and linebackers Brandon Watts and Josh Jackson.
The Tide lost a safety last year who had two interceptions, a fumble recovery and a pass deflection.
Alabama had three safeties who had a pass breakup in 2016; this year, it will be six.
Saban said that he’ll make the right decision with his starting defense.
“It’s going be tough for anybody to match that defense,” he said.
“The defense, if you want to put it on a stat sheet, they had the fourth-best pass defense in the conference last year.
They had the second-best rushing defense in Division I. They led the SEC by six sacks, but they were also the least productive team.
So that’s something I have to work with and get better at.
I’ll do whatever it takes to get the best defensive group in the division.”
Alabama lost to Florida in the Orange Bowl.
That loss came after the Tide had lost to Georgia, Auburn and Florida State.
They were ranked eighth in the ACC and the first-place Florida Gators.
But that’s not the only loss this year for Alabama.
They played Clemson and