By Marc Torrence, Bleacher Report:
Nick Saban doesn’t like to talk about sacks. He’s more into “affecting the quarterback”—chasing him around and making him uncomfortable can sometimes be just as valuable as a sack. But however you slice it, the lack of pressure imposed on opposing quarterbacks in 2013 had a trickle down effect to the rest of the Alabama defense. And it’s clear that in years when Alabama affects the quarterback—either with sacks or quarterback hurries—the Tide has had the most success across the board. Luckily for Alabama, help is very much on the way. Three of Alabama’s top four sacks leaders return for 2014, with one being just a freshman. The Crimson Tide has a couple of other young defenders ready to take the next step as well as a bevy of incoming talent in the 2014 recruiting class that could see the field and bolster the pass rush.
Gone are starting defensive ends Jeoffrey Pagan and Ed Stinson. The pair combined for just 3.5 sacks last season and were more space-eating defensive ends, rather than the smaller, speed rushers that Saban is recruiting to counteract spread offenses. While he isn’t exactly small, 6’4″, 320-lb. freshman A’Shawn Robinson was the standout of not just his class but the entire defensive line last season. He led the team with 5.5 sacks and finished second with five additional quarterback hurries. So Saban and Co. will have plenty of options to choose from to bump up its production in the pass-rushing department. No matter how you look at it, the pass rush wasn’t up to standards in 2013, however, the outlook is bright for 2014. [More]