Action gets intense along the defensive line

If there's one part of the Alabama squad where the Tide should be both talented and experienced, it's the defensive line. As starters since their freshman years, the senior trio of Kindal Moorehead, Jarret Johnson and Kenny King has pretty much seen it all. <br><br>The first thing they'll tell you is that the D-Line is all about attitude. "You can be calm off the field, but you've got to have that mean streak on Saturdays," King said.

"You can't be nice. When you get on the field you've got to turn it on."

Size and athleticism are nice, but every squad has players as big as a house that never contribute much on the field. "You've got to have the ‘want to'," King continued. "You have to be able to turn it on and turn it off. Actually, compared to these two (Moorehead and Johnson), I'm the one that always ends up getting into fights on the field."

All-SEC last year, defensive tackle Jarret Johnson is again being touted for post-season honors.

"Both of them have gotten 15-yarders--not me," Moorehead interjected with a laugh.

"What?" Johnson protested. "The referee threw the flag on the other guy, not me."

"Actually, you've got to be patient," Johnson continued. "You'll get your chance. You'll find a chance to get them back. You've got to keep your eyes open."

Fans hear about dirty play on the football field. Just what are we talking about? Moorehead explained, "The offensive lineman is thinking ‘He's tearing me up. I've got to get him.'

"They'll twist your leg or grab your privates," Moorehead continued. "But you can't retaliate. You can't think, ‘This person just did this--and I'm going to get him.' Get him on the next play. Maybe you'll bull rush him or something else to try to get him back.

"You just have to figure that sometime before the game is over I'm going to get him."

So how do you keep a dirty player from getting away with it, or even hurting you--without getting a flag thrown on yourself?

Kenny King on the field last year versus Arkansas.

"If you just keep hitting him in the mouth and hitting him in the mouth, he's going to get tired of it," Moorehead replied. "With two guys going back and forth, one guy will eventually get tired. That's why I say the deal is the heart. If my heart is bigger than yours--even if I'm tired--I'm still going to continue to hit you."

Obviously a lineman can run into a given player who's determined to play outside of the rules. But is there one team y'all played last year that was dirtier than the others?

As a chorus, all three quickly replied, "Arkansas!"

"They're dirty, real dirty," Moorehead added.

Johnson explained, "They're just ridiculous. If you go outside our locker room and look at the pictures (on the bulletin board), there is one picture of our defense making a tackle. And one of the Arkansas linemen has got hold of Saleem Rasheed's face mask and is just pulling his head back. You can see (the Arkansas player's) fingers going in his face mask gouging at his eye."

Moorehead doesn't believe it happens by accident. "Their entire team, their whole front, they're just dirty. Defense and offense.

"When the play is over, they're still going to hit you. You can't be anywhere around them when the play ends, because they're going to hit you. They're going to do something dirty."

Kindal Moorehead walks off the field after last season's hard-fought victory over Vanderbilt.

Obviously dirty play, with extracurricular action sometimes continuing beyond the whistle, is just part of playing football. And the Tide players understand that.

But Moorehead has a theory about why he and his teammate see so much of it. "We come into a game and everybody is talking about Alabama's defensive line--about the publicity we get. So when the other team comes in, all they want to do is play against us. They see a chance to boost their own reputation up."

And opposing teams are not above trying to get the other team's star ejected from the game. "When they're losing, they're going to try to get you out of your game by getting you kicked out," Moorehead said. "Sometimes, instead of hitting you, they'll spit on you. The referee doesn't see that, so if they see you hit him (in retaliation) they'll throw you out. That's what they're trying to do."

EDITOR'S NOTE: The August issue of ‘BAMA: Inside the Crimson Tide has Moorehead, King and Johnson on the cover. Inside the magazine is a much more extensive conversation with the Tide's three senior starters.

Published ten months a year, a subscription to ‘BAMA Magazine is a "must have" for all true Crimson Tide fans.


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