Coach Nick Saban expressed his concerns for the Alabama defense in a lot of different areas ahead of the Crimson Tide’s first spring football scrimmage on Saturday.
At least one of his defensive groups responded.
Offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher and outside linebacker Terrell Lewis said the Alabama pass rush was able to find its way into the backfield against the offensive line. Lewis also noted that reserve quarterback Mac Jones took a couple of hits despite wearing a black non-contact uniform.
“There was one play (Jones) got hit by like three people,” Lewis said. “One person hit him and he banged into the other person. It was like a pinball machine or something.”
That’s not what the big men up front or Saban wanted to see, who reminded his players to take it easy on the hits because the team is limited at the quarterback position.
“(The pressure) stems from a lot of different things, it’s not just one guy getting beat,” Pierschbacher said. “It’s either protections or calls or a difficult blitz, stuff like that, and cohesiveness just with having different guys play different spots, trying to build cohesiveness and play next to each other. I think it was a good step on Saturday, but we’ll learn from the mistakes this week, get better, and try to have a better second scrimmage on Saturday.”
Alabama is still searching for its five offensive linemen, and has experimented with players at several different positions up front. For Lewis and the defense, they see the mixing and matching of the line as an opportunity to expose players in a new spot.
“It was actually kind of shocking,” Lewis said. “There was a lot of moving around. I was seeing guys like Jedrick Wills at guard and stuff like that, so I’m looking at it like, ‘Whoa!’ in the middle of the scrimmage. It’s definitely different seeing them getting work at new positions and you (defenders) going full speed. I know they are getting used to it. It’s just different.”
Those differences are exactly why the offensive line isn’t panicking just yet. After all, it is only spring ball, and the Alabama pass rush is consistently one of the best in the NCAA.
Many of the Crimson Tide’s starters on defense, including pass rushers Lewis and Christian Miller, were hungry for game-time action after missing most of last season with injuries.
“I would be a little bit worried if the defense didn’t have a good day,” Pierschbacher said. “Since I’ve been here, usually if the defense gets after us a little bit, that’s going to be a good sign for the season. So, you know, we’ll come along. Like I said, it just takes cohesiveness and reps together. That will come with time. But yeah, it’s just all about getting better, and I’m excited to have another week.”
The linebackers group checked the production points immediately after the scrimmage. Lewis and his teammates have a friendly competition for who can accumulate the most each game. The winner on Saturday was sophomore Chris Allen.
“(Allen) did a lot of stuff, just paid attention to detail,” Lewis said. “We have certain calls where you’ll do certain techniques like rise and stuff like that and go straight to the quarterback since he’s a quarterback player and stuff. He executed those and did it in the right situations. It just played out for him.”