Most defensive players at Alabama share an experience of juvenescence at one point or another.
There is the playbook for the Alabama defense, with its multiple fronts and combination of coverages, and its set of calls and adjustments. It is not light reading.
“I remember this time last year whenever I was coming up, I felt like I wasn’t ever going to learn the plays,” sophomore linebacker Dylan Moses said. “It was so much to learn in a short period of time, I was just overwhelming myself and stressing myself out. Just seeing those younger guys today going through it, it’s funny to me. But at the same, I’m there for them because, I’m a sophomore now but it’s like I know the defense like the back of my hand.”
Moses had another set of challenges during his freshman year. He spent the 2017 season switching between inside linebacker and outside linebacker as injuries necessitated his presence to be in different places.
He’s now entrenched at inside linebacker. That means he’s one of the players responsible for making calls and checking teammates to be in the right place.
“Dylan Moses has plenty of talent, he’s made up of the right stuff, he’s a competitor,” defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi said when fall camp began. “As he continues to develop and gain confidence and continues to know his assignments and is able to communicate and be confident out there, he can step into that role as well to lead by action as well as vocally.”
That wasn’t the case last season. He played in the season opener and took a bigger role in the defense throughout the season until an injury in practice knocked him out of the postseason. This spring was the first time he felt like he had a firm grasp of Alabama’s playbook.
He still has more to learn. But he also recognizes his mistakes on his own.
“When I’m at practice and I make a mistake, the coaches try and get on me and stuff but it’s like I get on myself more than the coaches do,” Moses said. “I curse myself out, get angry at myself. Get down. Sometimes I let one play affect the next one, then I get myself out of that and try and focus again. Most of the time the coaches don’t even have to tell me anything because I’ve cursed myself out already.”
He can also point out what his teammates need to do and help players who are experiencing what he encountered last year. Behind Moses and junior Mack Wilson, none of Alabama’s inside linebackers have significant game action. The outside linebackers will also lean heavily on young players after injuries to Terrell Lewis and Chris Allen.
Moses knows what that’s like.
“Last year, I didn’t know what was going on,” Moses said. “Last year I had to really get my feet wet. And when I did get my feet wet for the first time, I was still kind of nervous. I didn’t have the experience. But now, it’s like I know what’s going on. I know what to expect and I’m just ready for the season to get here.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.