The constant cycle of raising and then replacing elite players has cultivated a next-man-up mentality at Alabama, especially at the linebacker position.
From groups anchored by C.J. Mosley to those led by Reuben Foster, the Crimson Tide has seen its share of great linebacker corps. Dylan Moses’ emergence has been instrumental in Alabama’s linebackers playing up to the standard that has been created by past groups.
“I’m probably on the field about 90 percent of the time, and I’ve gotten used to it,” Moses said. “I have a really big role, coach (Nick) Saban uses me in a lot of packages and I’ve gotten used to it.”
Moses has been all over the field for Alabama, making 19 total tackles (most among linebackers), including three tackles for a loss with a pass break-up. A consensus five-star prospect coming out of high school, nobody questioned if Moses’ skills would translate. His leadership, however, is where he has made the most strides.
“(Moses) comes to work every day,” outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings said. “He doesn’t talk a lot, but he tries to lead by example and he tries to do stuff the right way. I mean, he continues to learn and try to come in and learn every day. He’s just a good asset to the team.”
While Moses lets his actions do the talking, fellow inside linebacker Mack Wilson takes a more vocal approach. The hard-hitting junior is the backbone of the unit, both with his leadership and play. Along with ensuring proper communication among Alabama’s defense, Wilson has picked up where he left off last season: making big plays. He has made 15 tackles and been a disruptor in the passing game, breaking up three passes and hauling in an interception.
Within Saban’s defensive scheme, linebackers are counted upon to torment opposing quarterbacks by bringing constant pressure. This year’s group has answered the call, racking up 10 sacks total. That’s eight more sacks than last year’s linebackers had at this point in the season. Christian Miller paces the group (3.5), followed by Jennings (2.5) and Moses (2). Key reserve Jamey Mosley has brought the quarterback down twice as well.
The Alabama linebacker factory won’t be slowing down production anytime soon.
“I feel like they’re doing their job right now, they’re doing what they’re supposed to do,” Moses said. “And I tell them like I was told whenever I was coming up, just stay in the … film room and just stay in the playbook and keep learning. I feel like the guys behind us are really doing that well.”
Alabama’s defensive scheme is notorious for its complexity, and Saban knows that the education of Alabama’s young linebackers is just starting.
“I think we’re making progress in those areas and those guys are making improvements,” Saban said. “It’s a work in progress. They don’t have a lot of experience, they don’t have a lot of knowledge. We’ve been able to get them some experience in some of the games.”