Watching last season’s national championship game loss to Clemson isn’t easy for Alabama fans.
But at least they can fast-forward through the rough parts.
Alabama players are not allowed that luxury. They have to watch every agonizing bit of it. It’s how they learn from mistakes. It also can serve as a big motivator and have Crimson Tide players playing with a chip on their shoulder for the 2019 season.
Except for Alabama linebacker Anfernee Jennings. That chip has always been there.
“The chip never left my shoulder,” he said.
Jennings, a senior, is the leader of a linebacking corps eager to re-establish Alabama’s defensive dominance and right the wrongs of a disappointing finish.
“The way we finished last year was a humbling experience,” Jennings said. “This year we are paying more attention to details and emphasizing those things more now, because we don’t want to finish like that again.
“We are all on the same page and we are ready to go.”
Jennings appears to be on the same page with first-year defensive coordinator Pete Golding, who also stressed the small details and doing the little things during his media availability last week.
“I feel there is the attention to detail that coach (Nick Saban) demands that we need to be successful and continue to the success that Alabama and coach Saban has always had.”
Jennings was a redshirt freshman in 2015 but worked his way into the rotation the next year, contributing with 19 tackles. He flourished his sophomore year in a starting role but missed the national title game against Georgia with an injury during the semifinal game with Clemson. He returned as a starter last year, making 51 tackles with 6.5 sacks.
“I have been a leader on this team for a couple of years now – just knowing what coach wants and knowing what to do and how to do it and why it’s important and emphasizing that to the young guys and leading by example,” Jennings said. “We want to reemphasize the things that this program was built off of and getting back to the nitty-gritty and attention to detail.
“Me and the older guys have been here and we know how it’s supposed to be.”
Having Jennings among the leaders at linebacker in his first season as defensive coordinator is enough to give Golding confidence about how 2019 is shaping up.
“When you talk about an Alabama defense, when you watch it, it’s a relentless effort,” Golding said. “It’s guys that are mentally tough, regardless of whether it was a tackle for a loss or a guy missing a tackle. How he lines up and how he plays the next play. When you look at the tape, you see how physical those guys are. That doesn’t start on Saturday. That’s done every day. That’s Anfernee Jennings to me. He has the most focus in the meetings, he has attention to detail and he busts his butt. That all shows up on Saturday.”
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