Coaches become psychologists

When it rains, it pours. It's a worn-out cliché', but one that unfortunately Tide Defensive Coordinator Carl Torbush can identify with. <br><br>Dealing with a loss is one thing. But when your secondary essentially self-destructs on national TV, coaches must also become psychologists. "There is no question that any confidence you have is going to be bruised a little bit when a game like Saturday's happens," Torbush acknowledged.

"All of us were affected. You just don't give up that many yards (578 through the air) and that many completions (35) and not have your ego bruised and your self-confidence," Torbush continued. "We've got to learn from it, have a good week of practice, forget about it and move on. The worst thing you can do is sit around and worry about what you can't control. That game is gone."

Participating in 79 plays on defense, Waine Bacon (#24) had nine tackles and one forced fumble versus LSU. Senior Reggie Myles did not play.

Executing a ridiculously easy game of pitch and catch at the expense of Tide defenders, LSU quarterback Rohan Davey and wideout Josh Reed etched their name in the SEC record books. That performance has left the Bama coaches with the difficult task of shoring up their players' egos. "We have not lost confidence in our players," Torbush stated firmly. "I think that needs to be brought out. I think they've got a chance to continue to improve. What we've got to do is take what we've done in practice and transfer it to Saturday's games. And when we have a chance to make plays in the ball game, make them."

"It's important that you maintain a consistency," Torbush continued. "Right now we're dealing with young men that are 17-18-19 years old. They believe a lot of the things they hear, whether they be right or wrong. We need to make sure we go into the last three ball games of the season with self-confidence in themselves to believe that they can be successful."

The hard truth is that Torbush and his fellow defensive assistants have been preaching that same line all season. Every week the Tide secondary works feverishly on fundamentals, practicing to break on the ball, get in the defender's face and disrupt the pass. But so far that good preparation has not carried over to Saturday's games. "We need to tighten things up and put the players in better positions," Torbush said. "We need to do a better job with technique. But we've practiced well. We've practiced hard. I think we've practiced with urgency. They know what they're doing. What we've got to do is convert it over to Saturday's ball game."

Starting cornerback Gerald Dixon was credited with four tackles.

Following the game several Tide defensive backs acknowledged that the correct schemes had been called, but early success by LSU had the Bama DBs playing back on their heels. Torbush explained; "We started backing off some because LSU was getting deep. In the process, they started throwing underneath and then we missed some tackles. What should have been a 7-yard pass broke for big yardage. As big as anything, the key has been our inability to tackle well after a catch. That has got us in trouble several times."

In Josh Reed and Michael Clayton, the Bengal Tigers had receivers that excelled at gaining yardage after the catch. And seemingly with every reception and run, the Tide cornerbacks took another half-step back. "When things are not going well, it's human nature to back off to give yourself a better chance to recover," Torbush said. "But when you do that you put yourself in a tougher tackling situation. Of course, getting pressure on the quarterback would help."

Junior cornerback Hirchel Bolden had seven stops, two pass deflections and one fumble recovery.

On the day LSU averaged more than 15 yards per catch, and Bama's starting corners responded by giving more and more cushion before the snap. "Some of that they did on their own--some of it was called," Torbush said. "It's my responsibility as defensive coordinator. When we saw them creeping back, we should have got on them harder to get back up again.

"A lot of that had to do with the ability of (Josh) Reed and (Michael) Clayton for LSU. They are very talented receivers. They're as talented as we've seen all year. And (quarterback Rohan) Davey, if he's on, he's got a chance to be a good player at the next level. He's talented."

Not every Tide cornerback played tentative. Redshirt freshman Thurman Ward generally provided close coverage on his man, but a couple of almost perfect passes victimized him anyway. "We had one cornerback that got hit a couple of times on the deep ball," Torbush related. "But he was where he needed to be up in their face. They made two great throws. As a coordinator, I can handle that a whole lot better than I can a guy catching an eight-yard route and then turning it into a 34-yard run.

As Alabama's nickel back, Roberto McBride played 29 snaps on defense, totaling three tackles, one for a loss of three yards.

"But we really didn't do anything in the passing game that we needed to get done to give ourselves a chance to win the ball game. We kept them out of the end zone a couple of more times than they could have by making two turnovers down at the goal line. One was a really good play by Waine Bacon punching the ball loose."

As a veteran of more than 25 years of coaching, Torbush accepts responsibility for his team's struggles. But he rejects the notion that playing a so-called ‘prevent defense' has been the problem. "Let me say this. We have not been in any prevent defense. We very, very seldom if at all ever rush just three guys. Normally, a prevent defense is a three-man rush with four or five underneath (in coverage) and three or four deep. We have been too soft at times. We haven't gotten much pressure. But we have not been in a prevent defense."

Despite last weeks' demolition, the Tide pass defense ranks eighth in the SEC (yielding 265.1 yards per game)--ahead of Vanderbilt, Georgia, Kentucky and LSU. "We've got a lot of work to do," Torbush admitted. "I think the kids will respond well. They have all year long. But what we've got to do is take what we do in practice and put in a ball game and produce. We've got to make plays. We've had opportunities to make them, either by tackles, interceptions or knockdowns."

Redshirt freshman Thurman Ward participated in only 17 plays on defense, but Torbush noted his aggressive (though unsuccessful) coverage. Ward was credited with two solo tackles.

Alabama is starting two cornerbacks (Hirchel Bolden and Gerald Dixon) with starting experience. But Waine Bacon and Charles Jones are new atop the depth chart this season, and first-off-the-bench corners Thurman Ward and Roberto McBride are seeing their first year of SEC action. "I said going into the season that our lack of experience in the secondary would be a problem," Torbush said. "The key for us is making sure we put those guys in the best positions so they have a chance to be successful. But when we do, they've got to tackle well and make some plays."

However, eight games into the season, inexperience alone cannot explain the meltdown suffered last week. Almost to a man, the Tide secondary spent the game backpedaling, prompting LSU to press their passing barrage. And unless something changes quickly, more of the same has to be expected.

"We need to make plays early in the game," Torbush said. "Right now we're in a very fragile mental frame of mind because of what LSU was able to exploit on us last week. I don't think there is any question we need to make plays early. If we could make a few plays early, then that will help us gain the self-confidence."


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