The three-man defensive line had been good to Alabama, and that is why the defense has used it more than in previous years, and lower sack totals are not a concern, Alabama Defensive Coordinator Joe Kines said Tuesday.
"Thiry Cover-8 has been the most productive front we've had all year, that's why we play it," Kines said. "It doesn't matter if it's popular or not."
"You want to get pressure on the quarterback every time," he said. "The last four plays the other night we hit him all four times with a three-man rush. The secondary is getting better every day. At some point in time this is going to be a good defense."
Kines dismissed the notion that a lack of sack production (Alabama is tied for last in the SEC with six sacks) was a negative for his defense.
"There's never been a stat that shows correlation between sacks and wins," Kines said. "There's correlation between stopping the run and winning, and third down defense and winning."
Alabama is fourth in the SEC in opponents' third down conversions, allowing 24 of 70 third down conversions (.343 PCT), fifth in the conference in rushing defense (121.8 rushing yards per game) and first in the league in takeaways, with 17.
Alabama has been plagued by inconsistent kicking since freshman Leigh Tiffin missed four placement kicks against Arkansas on September 23. Tiffin was replaced by junior Jamie Christensen, who is now 3 of 5 on field goals, and had an extra point blocked against Duke.
"The injury now is not affecting him," Alabama Special Teams Coordinator Dave Ungerer said, "it's the lack of work. He missed five weeks of practice. He's not fluid now, and the only thing I could attribute it to is missing over a month of work.
Christensen said his groin is completely healed but that his gluteus maximus (or glute, or butt-muscle) is sore from returning to kicking after such a long layoff, which is not letting him get as much power into kickoffs as he would like even though they are still above average. He said he's averaging 3.9 seconds of hang time on his kickoffs.
"Coming back off not really kicking for a month and a half, my glutes are tight right now," Christensen said. "It's gong to affect the kickoff especially, field goal attempts not so much. My groin is completely pain free. Early on it was exactly opposite."