Of course in the Independence Bowl win, a Tide defense that averaged yielding just over 361 yards per game gave up 456 total yards to the Cyclones. But the bottom line was only 13 points allowed.
"You don't like to give up yardage anywhere, but the name of the game is keeping them out of the endzone," Torbush said. "The closer you get to the endzone, the field gets smaller. But I do think our guys responded well. Right now they feel pretty good that the closer you get to the endzone, the better we'll play."
During its final four-game winning streak to end the season, the Tide gave up only 52 points--an average of only 13 per contest. Prompting Head Coach Dennis Franchione to say that anyone could play defense out in the middle of the field, but it took real men to play inside the red zone.
"That's a great compliment that Coach Fran made to the defense," Torbush said. "But we'd rather them not get down there."
In the final statistics, the Bama defense finished ranked 48th nationally in total defense. But in points allowed per game (19.9) the Tide was a better 24th.
"Ideally you want a relentless defense that plays with a lot of excitement and a lot of emotion that never says die," Torbush continued. "I think this defense did that."
Given the 35-21 shellacking it had endured versus LSU in what turned out to be Bama's final loss of the season, Torbush is especially proud of his unit's closing run. "The times were tough. That LSU game as a coach was tough. Everything we did was wrong. Anything. I don't care if it was zone blitz, man, drop eight, rush eight, it was just one of those games.
"But even with that game we competed and had a chance to win. Every game we lost we legitimately with a play here or there we had a chance to win. What we've got to do is correct the things that gives us that chance."
Easily the best chance that Bama has to be good can be found on its depth chart. Of the 11 players that started versus the Cyclones, at least eight return. And two other parttime starters from 2001 are back as well.
Torbush explained, "The great thing is we've got most of them back, so it's not like we're retooling or reteaching. What we've got to do is build on that. If you look at it, we've got a guy that started some at almost every position. We've got legitimately 8-9 starters back. We've got guys coming back with experience on defense.
Those returning with starting experience include no less than three seniors on the defensive line and possibly three in the secondary. "I do feel like with the number of seniors we've got coming back on defense we've got to be better," Torbush said. "And I think we will."
But Torbush is quick to add that this spring especially, just because a player can be labeled "returning starter" does not mean his job is secure. "We've got four or five guys that didn't play last year that are going to compete for jobs this spring," he said. "Guys like Freddie Roach, Anthony Madison, Roman Harper, Charlie Peprah. I think Mark Anderson will surprise some people. And Todd Bates got some experience last year. We've got some young guys that if our returning guys don't continue to improve, then they've got a chance to get beat out.
"The great thing about competition is it will make everybody get better."