Not Sitting this One Out

With Hawaii's spread out formations and Run-n-Gun offense it's a given that the Alabama defense will run nickel and dime formations, using five, six or maybe more defensive backs, throughout the game next Saturday.

To some, that's an indication that we will have to wait until week two to get a sense of who will be Alabama's main man at middle linebacker. The competition between Matt Collins and Prince Hall for the middle spot has been close since the spring. Collins is a steady and smart run-stopper, while Hall is more athletic, but less experienced.

And it's not a sure thing that both of them will spend more time on the sideline than on the field due to Hawaii's passing attack.

That's because Alabama's nickel package can take on different forms. When the fifth defensive back enters the game, it doesn't always have to be the middle linebacker who leaves the game. At times last year Alabama used a three defensive linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs nickel package instead of a 4-2-5 alignment.

All defensive coordinator Joe Kines would say is, "We'll play both of them. We're not going to ask them to walk out and cover a receiver."

Collins certainly isn't taking the week off. He is ready to play against Hawaii.

"Pass coverage is a concern for this game, but who knows, they may try to come and run the ball down our throats," Collins said. "But I definitely have to concentrate on pass drops."

"For sure they love to pass the ball, everyone knows that," Collins said. "The biggest thing I've seen is we really have to concentrate on tackling. First, you try to let them catch the ball and get the quarterback down with the front four. He's an excellent athlete. They are going to catch the ball, but we have to make sure when they do that we get them on the ground."

Collins, a straight-A student, has an intellectual approach about his competition with Hall for playing time at linebacker. "A lot of guys don't like having somebody pushing them. I actually appreciate it."


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