Pete Golding has a vision for a better Alabama football defense
There were no spring practices to run, no meetings to run, no recruiting trips to take. For much of the spring, Alabama defensive coordinator Pete Golding and his staff had little more to do than self-evaluate. So they did — and did it extensively.
It was likely a painful process for them, after the 2019 team finished tied for 43rd in yards per carry allowed, 35th in third-down defense, 42nd in red-zone defense by touchdowns allowed and tied for 74th in red-zone scores of any kind allowed.
Golding said the result of that self-scout was clarity for the path forward.
“That was the biggest thing this offseason, in all the studies we did, going back: Did we have that drill set up?” Golding said. “All these missed tackles, a lot of them are in similar situations; well, did we drill it? Did we put them in that situation?”
Alabama could also address some of those problems with its personnel selection, which Golding suggested.
With UA replacing two outside linebacker starters – three in the secondary and one on the defensive line – it could opt for more situational packages to best use what Golding sees as a deep defense.
“Like in anything, it’s finding something they can do," he said. "Especially this year, let’s not look at what they can’t do. Let’s look at what they can do. Let’s put them in that situation. They’re not good at this, let’s not ask them to do it. If it’s a base or a package, whatever it is, let’s find someone – whether it’s a younger player or an older player – who excels at that and ask them to do that. If he’s not good at something, let’s sub him out and put someone else in.”
The outside linebacker position is a good example of that, where Golding said redshirt senior Ben Davis and redshirt junior Christopher Allen are emerging as leaders and coaches on the field, but also praised a recruiting class that features several players fit for the position including Chris Braswell, Drew Sanders, Quandarrius Robinson and Will Braswell Jr.
Golding hopes a productive spring in adverse circumstances makes that personnel usage possible.
“With the Zoom meetings we had, where we’re at from a mental standpoint with our players, I think we’re way ahead of where we’ve ever been,” he said.
In evaluating himself, Golding was not blind to the public’s opinion of his first year on the job. He knows he and his defense were heavily criticized and says he is comfortable with it. The same expectation he failed on last year is the one he wants to achieve this year.
“I took this job because I wanted to coach the best defense in the country,” he said. “That’s the expectation at this place and I don’t want it any differently.”