Torbush never satisfied

To even casual observers, Alabama's improvement on defense in last week's game was obvious. Sacks, quarterback hurries, fumble recoveries, forced turnovers--name the area, and Bama improved. <br><br>But Coordinator Carl Torbush didn't gain his reputation as one of the best defensive minds in the country by sitting on past laurels. "Satisfied? I'm not by any means satisfied," he said. "None of us are.

"We did jump off sides. We did get caught with not being lined up and ready to play a couple of times. We need to tackle better. We're still not as crisp as we want to be. We need to be more physical. We've got to be more disciplined on the snap count. And we've got to get lined up and ready to play immediately. Those are areas that we have definitely got to improve. We've got a lot of work to do before we get to where we need to be. But we've got a lot more ball games."

It's not that Torbush didn't see (and appreciate) the good things his defense accomplished versus the Razorbacks. But it's his job to strive for constant progress. "We made some mistakes that I was concerned with," Torbush related. "No. 1 was we were jumping off sides. We did that too many times. I did not feel like we got lined up quick enough. (Arkansas) ran the quick count several times, but that's no excuse. We've got to do better, and that's one thing we worked on really hard (this week).

Reggie Myles (#23) enjoys the moment with Marico Portis (#71), following the game. Myles's 42-yard fumble return for a touchdown was one of the games biggest defensive plays.

"The off sides were just a lack of discipline, and that's our fault. It wasn't just the defensive front, it was a linebacker, too. It was a combination of things. They used a different count, which we work on. We've just got to be disciplined. They've got to see the ball."

But having said all that, Torbush was also clear in his belief that his troops had improved. "I thought we played hard," he said. "We hit the quarterback. We got up by 14 points, which gave us a chance to turn loose a little bit more. We got several sacks.

"The sacks, the two fumbles and two interceptions--there's no doubt those were big, big plays in the ball game. And scoring two touchdowns, having the big plays was important."

Scoring two touchdowns itself and setting up the offense for a third, Bama's defensive unit delivered the knockout blow to Arkansas. But Torbush was just as impressed with the paucity of points allowed. He explained; "The other thing that I am proud of was when the team got into the red zone, we didn't give up touchdowns. For the most part we kept them out. And that's very important for us."

Alabama is only three weeks into a long season, but Torbush delivered a preliminary assessment. "We addressed a few issues," he acknowledged. "We got more pressure on the quarterback. We got some turnovers, and we did get some sacks. We made some big plays on defense, and we didn't give up the big play.

"But we've still got a long way to go. We're not where we need to be, but the things we're doing wrong right now are very correctable. I'm excited about where we can go as a defense."

Heading into the season, Bama's front seven was projected to be a defensive strength. But veteran quarterbacks throwing quick, timing routes limited their production in the first two games.

So seven sacks versus the Razorbacks was definitely a welcome number. "A lot of it had to do with Arkansas getting behind by 14 points," Torbush explained. "If you look back at the Vanderbilt and the UCLA games, we're talking about three points either way. Arkansas had to drop back and throw it more, which had a little bit to do with it.

Defensive tackle Jarret Johnson was credited with two quarterback sacks versus the Razorbacks.

"Each game we're getting a little bit better on our coverage and a little bit better on our rush. But if you're looking at one thing, there's no doubt that a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter had a lot to do with that."

However, Torbush did acknowledge improvement in the secondary and along the defensive line. "Several of them were coverage sacks," he said. "And a couple of them were just great effort--tremendous effort to get to the quarterback. Plus, we would have probably had him down a couple of more times, if he hadn't just gotten rid of it late."

As the game wore along, many Tide fans grew restless with the number of short completions thrown in front of Bama's cornerbacks. Time and again the Arkansas receivers ran hitch routes for seven- to eight-yard completions, accounting for much of the Razorbacks' 209 yards passing.

But according to Torbush, it was all part of the plan. "We softened up (our coverages) some, but we had a 14-point lead," he explained. "The thing we didn't want to do was give up a cheap touchdown.

"But our corners do need to be a little bit more aggressive with our coverage, and I think they will be. Because of some things that happened before, they got a little bit softer at times. But we'll address that. But I want to say that the main thing is we didn't get beat deep."

Keep the play in front of you and use your team speed to run to the football--all part of Bama's plan to make Arkansas work hard for every yard they got. "We want to make plays on everything," Torbush related. "But the most important thing once we got a lead was we didn't want to give it all back at one time. We felt like if we kept the ball in front of us and continued to mix things up, then we had a chance to eventually come up with the big play. Which we did."

Cornerback Roberto McBride had a diving interception in the second half.

Prominent in that ‘big-play' column were two second-half interceptions turned in by Bama's backup corners. "That interception by (Roberto) McBride was a big-time play," Torbush said. "From up in the press box I thought he just barely got a hand on it. I didn't know he caught the ball, so that was a big-time interception."

Then, late in the fourth quarter, Thurman Ward made the Razorbacks pay when their quarterback went to the well one too many times. Torbush related; "Thurman did a great job of (faking) the quarterback and the receiver. He showed some softness and then jumped on the route. He hit (the interception) on the dead run and scored from there."

Proving that Bama's youthful defenders are growing up fast, both interceptions were grabbed by athletes playing their first season. Said Torbush; "We don't have an excuse about experience (any more), because they've had three games to get experience. That shouldn't be a factor. The secondary has made a lot of improvement, but we've got a long way to go. That's an area when you do well, everybody sees you. And when you do badly, everybody sees you.

"I think as we gain experience we'll complement (the rest of) our defense and have more confidence in ourselves. Then with that fine line about playing too soft or too hard--then you'll get to where you need to be. Then we'll be consistent."


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