Alabama's defensive performance in its last two SEC games have brought up the following discussion: Is the Crimson Tide's defense overrated?
After winning the national championship last year, Alabama lost the core of its defense to the NFL draft—Courtney Upshaw, Donta Hightower, Mark Barron—but this year's unit proved ruthless up until it faced LSU. And then Texas A&M. Missed tackles and blown assignments were key in those battles.
Head coach Nick Saban has been saying all year that the Tide needs work on its pass rush.
"I don't think we have a dominant rusher like we had a year ago," he said. "I think we have guys that as a unit and as a group can be effective. I think it's a combination of not rushing on a consistent basis and not covering on a consistent basis that has been one of the problems we've had."
That said, Alabama doesn't face Zach Mettenberger (who had his best game of the season against Bama) or Johnny Manziel this weekend. Those two combined torched the Tide for 551 yards passing. Manziel also added 92 rushing yards. This week when Auburn comes to town, it'll bring along its green quarterback Jonathan Wallace, who took over starting duties at the beginning of the month.
"He's taken control of the Auburn offense, which is great for him," said linebacker C.J. Mosley, who leads the team with 89 tackles. "It's not an easy job. I wish the best for him on another day, but we've still got to do our job. We have to play the best we can."
Wallace is a true freshman, but age and experience of Auburn's quarterback means nothing to Alabama. All they care about is making sure he doesn't have a pleasant first trip to Bryant-Denny Stadium.
"If we do our job better, no matter if he's a freshman or a senior, then we should be OK," said linebacker Nico Johnson. "We had a lot of mistakes the past three weeks, a lot of things we've got to correct. We've got to do it, no matter what.
"It's do or die time now. It's either we do it or we don't."
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