Tide Defense Has Been Dominating

One of the things Nick Saban has said since becoming head coach of Alabama is that he wants the Crimson Tide to be the type of dominating football team that opponents don't look forward to playing against. Everything about Bama's first two wins hasn't been good, but the Tide has been dominating.



Alabama has defeated seventh ranked Virginia Tech by 34-24 and unranked Florida International by 40-14, and neither game has been as close as the final score. Bama opened the season ranked fifth in the nation and is at number four.

This week Alabama is host to North Texas at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Mean Green, like Florida International, is a member of the Sun Belt Conference. (The commissioner of the Sun Belt is Alabama alumnus Wright Watters, who was in attendance at the Alabama-FIU game.) Kickoff Saturday will be at 11:20 a.m. CDT with television coverage on the Southeastern Confeence network and on ESPN360.com and ESPN GamePlan.

Alabama has turned in 10 sacks in its first two games, five in each contest. Against FIU, Alabama did it primarily with a four-man rush with Marcell Dareus particularly effective. Dareus was playing because of the continuing unfortunate circumstances for Brandon Deaderick. After being shot the Monday before the opener, Deaderick was absent last week because of a death in his family.

Dareus had two sacks for 17 yards in losses against FIU. Bama's five sacks were good for 38 yards in losses for the Golden Panthers. Alabama Coach Nick Saban said, "Marcell Dareus has done a really good job for us."

Perhaps Dareus's biggest sack came as Alabama was nursing a 20-14 late in the second quarter. FIU had moved into Bama territory. On a third-and-seven, Dareus caught FIU quarterback Paul McCall for an 11-yard loss, back from the Bama 42 to the Florida International 47, which forced a punt.

Although it doesn't show up statistically, it is likely that FIU's McCall was affected by the number of hits he took when he wasn't sacked. He completed 16 of 32 passes for 189 yards and was forced to run (including sacks) 11 times for minus 29 yards.

Ordinarily, a team that has only 26 rushes in a game is in trouble. That's what FIU had. And those 26 rushes accounted for a total of only one net yard of offense. Take out McCall's numbers and four rushers had 15 rushes for 30 yards. The longest run from scrimmage by FIU was eight yards.

"I thought in the first half we didn't do as good a job of affecting the quarterback as we would have liked," Alabama Coach Nick Saban said following the game. "We did less pressuring in this game. A couple of pressures they caught us in, he checked to the jailbreak screen.

"So most of what we did today was four-man rush which is good because if you can affect the quarterback with a four-man rush then you're going to be able to play more effective pass defense and not give up as many big plays. A couple of the big plays we gave up today we were trying to pressure with five and playing man-to-man and we got picked and it didn't work out too well. But I'm really pleased with the improvement we've made in pass rush."

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