Square Wants Tight Team Chemistry
"I want us to build chemistry on defense," said Alabama defensive end Damion Square, 6-3, 285 from Houston. "I want our chemistry to be so tight it makes us hard to beat."
He explained that building chemistry is "when you believe in the guy on the side of you and trust that he's going to do what he's supposed to do on every play, and he can believe in you."
Square has been that guy. After being redshirted in 2008, Square suffered a torn ACL in the second game of the 2009 season. He came back last season and played every game at defensive end, starting the first six games in Bama's 10-3 season.
Prior to the start of spring practice, Alabama Coach Nick Saban said that a point of emphasis would be improving the Crimson Tide pass rush. Although Saban doesn't measure pass rush by sacks, it was telling that Bama did not rank high in that area in 2010.
Square and his up front teammates are working under a new coach this spring. Bo Davis left Bama for Texas and was replaced by Chris Rumpf, hired from Clemson. Square said Rumpf has accepted the mandate to improve pass rush. "Coach Rumpf is teaching it a lot," Square said of techniques to "get push in the pocket. We're a run-stopping team and that's what we focus on, but we have to get push in the pass rush to help our secondary out. He's trying to help us be more complete than just being one-dimensional.
"He wants to see us knock the o-line back instead of them knocking us back. He wants us to hold the block so the linebackers can do the things they know how to do best. It's just good to be physical up front in practice so you can carry it over on Saturdays."
Square said that technique is not so much change. "He (Rumpf) understands that Coach Davis was a great coach and he's a great coach so he's really working with what Coach Davis already taught us. There's nothing that he came in and changed or anything like that, and that's what I like about him most. He recognizes who we are and he's working off of that. He didn't really grab us and make us something that we weren't. He's taking what we already are and making us better."
Last year Square was a solid performer. turning in 27 tackles, including seven for losses totaling 27 yards, and had three sacks for 16 yards in losses. He also had one quarterback hurry. One thing that could be different this year is that Square may not wear a knee brace in 2011.
He said his knee is "fantastic. As a matter of fact I realize by taking the brace off it's better. I wore the brace through last year because there was a fear of taking it off. It almost became a part of me. Taking it off this spring, I go home and I'm like, 'Man, my knee is unbelievable.' It probably has been this way for a while, but I wasn't trusting it. I gave it a chance this spring and no looking back."
On Saturday Alabama will have its first scrimmage of the spring. Square said he is looking forward to it. "It's always good to get out there in the stadium. That's big time. It's just a different environment."
During the scrimmage, the defensive front will be trying to get push working against two new quarterbacks, A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims.
Square said, "Both of them have great pocket poise. Both of them sit in the pocket and try to work the offense out to the tee however many seconds that takes. Both of them have enough sense to pull the ball down and get those yards that we need when nothing is available out on the back end. Both of them are great guys. I'm interested to see who's going to be that guy that takes us all the way."
Alabama concludes spring practice with the A-Day Game on April 16.
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