Tide manufacturing depth on defense

Every once in awhile even a bloated, out-of-touch bureaucracy manages to accomplish its goal. And so it is with the issue of the NCAA and parity. Repeated cuts aimed at the golden egg that is college football have reduced scholarships to the point where even the big-time programs worry about their depth chart. "We'll never have as much depth as we want," explained Tide Defensive Coordinator Carl Torbush. "Nobody ever does."

The mandated reductions in total scholarships (pushed through by the UABs and Montana States of the football world) have forced coaches everywhere to scramble in search of dependable backups. "You've got to be able to manufacture depth," Torbush said. "And that's what we're going to have to do. There's no doubt that somewhere during the year somebody is going to get banged up and go down. And we're going to have to replace him. We've got to be prepared to do that. That's part of coaching."

With kickoff versus UCLA still over a week away, Torbush and his fellow defensive coaches have a pretty good idea of which athletes will provide the most minutes. "At (defensive) end we'd start Kindal Moorehead and Kenny King with Antwan Odom, Aries Monroe and Nautyn (McKay-Loescher) helping," Torbush related. "Inside (at defensive tackle) you've got Jarret Johnson, David Daniel and Anthony Bryant with a chance that Kenny King and Kindal Moorehead would be in there at some point."

Kindal Moorehead will play some tackle.

Kenny King will also be asked to provide some minutes on the inside.

Other athletes like Derek Sanders and Allen Hollie at tackle and Todd Bates at end are working hard to improve, but that list contains those most likely to play. And Torbush listed his major contributors at linebacker.

"Our two outside starters are Victor Ellis and Brooks Daniels. Backups behind Daniels are (Jason) Rawls and Adam Cox. Though we recently moved him back to linebacker, Cox has come on. On the other side Cornelius Wortham will backup. In the middle we'll start Saleem (Rasheed) with Darius Gilbert No. 2."

Super-frosh Freddie Roach and several good walk-ons are also battling to improve, but Tide Head Coach Dennis Franchione said this week that Roach is still likely a few weeks away from a primary backup role.

Carlos Andrews will work at strong safety to provide depth.

On the outside edge of the Bama defense, Torbush names several athletes as likely to play. "At the cornerback position Hirchel Bolden, Gerald Dixon and Roberto McBride are ahead. Carlos Andrews has played well, but will be worked some at safety also. Corey Ferguson and Thurman Ward will provide depth. And (true freshman) Charlie Peprah could be in the mix."

"At free safety," Torbush continued. "We'll start Reggie Myles backed up by Charley Jones. At strong safety is Shontua Ray backed up by Waine Bacon, and Carlos (Andrews) will get some work there as well."

Though he's generally happy with the quality of the athletes on his squad, Torbush bemoans the problems caused by NCAA reductions in scholarships. "When they went from 105 scholarships down to 95 and now 85, that took away a lot of your depth," he explained. "What we've got to do as coaches now is manufacture depth."

Reserve Middle Linebacker Darius Gilbert has gotten some work at defensive end.

In a clear example of ‘unintended consequences,' limiting the number of total scholarships has forced a return to two-position football for many athletes. And Alabama is counting on several defenders to contribute at more than one spot.

Explains Torbush, "That means getting a Kindal Moorehead that can play defensive end and some tackle and also a guy like Kenny King. That means a guy like Darius Gilbert playing linebacker and some defensive end. That means linebackers being able to play any of the three positions. That means Carlos Andrews being able to play corner and safety."

Strongside linebacker Victor Ellis could move inside if needed.

Finding players capable of contributing at more than one spot and then schooling them in the task has become a basic part of any defensive coordinator's job. And after trying his hand at head coaching in a failed effort at North Carolina, Torbush is happy to return to his roots. "If you ask me as a professional what I enjoy doing the most, it's coaching linebackers and coordinating a defense," he stated. "That's what I enjoy, and I'm very, very happy right now. There's no question about it. I'm excited to be in Tuscaloosa. I'm a southern guy. I really enjoy southern hospitality and being around this atmosphere.

"And I'm excited to be at Alabama. I'm not looking toward anything else except to return (Alabama) to where it was and win a national championship."

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