It’s the one word best used to describe why Alabama has been so successful under Nick Saban. Well, maybe “talent” and “coaching” and “physical” and “resources” – but you understand my point. Talented depth has been essential to the Tide’s decade-long domination of college football.
It’s not just the starting 11 guys opponents have to worry about; it’s the second wave of players who come in as a relief – with little to no drop-off – to rest the starters.
Depth is Derrick Henry as a backup for two seasons, when he could have started as a true freshman almost anywhere else in the nation. Depth is Alabama’s second-team being full of four- and five-star recruits who would start at most other SEC schools. Depth is losing a handful of defensive players every year to the NFL draft but suffering no noticeable decline.
Alabama’s depth will be tested again following the news that linebackers Christian Miller and Terrell Lewis – listed as the starter and backup, respectively, at strongside linebacker – are lost for the season with injuries suffered in the opener.
Miller and Lewis were being counted on to fill major holes as pass rushers after the departures of Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams. Now, it seems likely that junior Jamey Mosley, a former walk-on, and true freshman Chris Allen will try to fill the shoes of the guys who were being asked to fill those shoes. While both are listed as inside linebackers, Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses seem versatile enough to be used on the outside.
The bigger point here is that Alabama is scrambling to fill holes on the edge. The impact of such a loss will be felt across the entire field. With arguably the Tide’s two best pass rushers out for the season, Alabama will be relying on a number of unproven players to fill that position of need.
This also could mean that safety Ronnie Harrison could be asked to rush the passer more, something he has been effective in doing. This also means the defensive linemen — players such as Da’Ron Payne, Da’Shawn Hand, Raekwon Davis, Joshua Frazier, Isaiah Buggs and Quinnen Williams — will need to be more effective in getting to the quarterback by themselves.
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