The first-team defense registered seven sacks during Saturday’s A-Day spring game, all of them coming from defenders in the front seven with five coming from the defensive line.
Through 14 games all of last season, the defensive line had 18 sacks.
That was the story of the first-team defense during its steak-winning performance against the first-team offense. The pass rush was too much.
Raekwon Davis threw his hat into the ring for best returning defensive lineman in the SEC with a two-sack day. With two sacks of his own, Quinnen Williams publicly announced his presence, though privately those around the program sung his praise all spring. Isaiah Buggs also added a sack. The three gave the offensive line issues all day, and that’s not even considering the pressure the outside and inside linebackers created.
“Raekwon is a good player because he’s hard to block,” UA coach Nick Saban said. “Isaiah Buggs is a good player because he’s hard to block. Quinnen Williams has made a lot of improvements this spring. I don’t think the (second-team defensive) line could put nearly as much pressure as pass rushers.
“I think Terrell Lewis can rush, I think (Anfernee Jennings) can rush when he comes back, I think (Christian Miller) can rush. We’ve got a couple of good blitzers in Mack (Wilson) and Dylan (Moses). We’re athletic and faster. We just need more depth. We don’t have quality depth at a lot of positions on defense. It’s going to be a real key for us to develop that.”
If that depth develops over the course of the summer and fall camp, Alabama could field a nasty front seven.
LaBryan Ray, a sophomore defensive end, could be a part of that depth, and Saban said as much when he cited his growth during his post-game press conference.
“(Quinnen and Isaiah) have been playing great,” Davis said. “Quinnen got after them today. Them boys just really been getting after it.
“We’ve got a long way to go. We can be better. We’re getting better as a team. We’re getting there.”
The first-team offense recorded 297 yards of offense but the defense kept them out of the end zone all afternoon, including during the offense’s three trips in the red zone.
The defense also recorded a turnover with Trevon Diggs intercepting a Jalen Hurts pass in the fourth quarter.
Saban again spoke of the lack of experienced depth in the secondary, saying the unit doesn’t have enough scholarship players and won’t until the summer enrollees come in at the end of May. Safety
Deionte Thompson, who started two games in the College Football Playoff, is not the experienced leader of the group.
“I have the most starting experience,” Thompson said. “We’re very young. I have to be the vocal guy this year. These guys are looking at me.”
Reach Aaron Suttles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.