Football 101: Crimson Tide rolls on defense

Updated: May 26, 2006, 10:18 AM ET
By Bob Davie | Special to ESPN.com
The place to go this spring to talk defense is the University of Alabama. In 2005, the Crimson Tide finished No. 1 in both the SEC and NCAA in scoring defense, giving up only 10.7 points per game under defensive coordinator Joe Kines.

A quick glance at the statistics from the last three years shows just how successful Alabama's defense is. It also reveals how much improvement the Tide defense has made under Kines. The rankings below show the final stats in both SEC and NCAA defensive categories.

Points of emphasis

Coaches visiting Alabama quickly find out there are several points of emphasis in the Crimson Tide's defensive philosophy.

1. Speed on the field
According to Kines, if a player doesn't run to the football, it is because "he can't or he won't." Either of those options will get a team beat. Alabama emphasizes speed, effort and running to the football.

2. Tackling
The first thing Alabama's defense does every day in practice is tackle. This sets the priority.

3. Demand perfect alignment and assignment
Alabama does not do a lot on defense with its scheme. Instead, the Tide take the approach of "doing a few things and doing them well." That is why the Bama players know exactly what they are doing and play fast with a lot of confidence.

4. Scheme
Alabama uses two base schemes on defense. The first is a 4-3 scheme with regular personnel, using four defensive linemen, three linebackers and four defensive backs. The Tide's other base scheme is a 30 package, which they use almost 50 percent of the time. This package features three defensive linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs.

5. Disguise
Alabama does a great job of making every defense look the same to the opposing quarterback. About 98 percent of the time, the Tide will start in a Cover 2 shell, which means there are two safeties deep. On the snap, one of the safeties either will drop down and the coverage will change or he will stay in two-deep.

Breaking down the Tide defense

The thing that makes Alabama different is its commitment to the 30 package. The animations below break down the Tide's base 30 defense with a three-deep coverage and the 30 blitz package, which is also called the Yellow dog, man-free blitz.

30 Defense
30 defense
Launch play breakdown

Bob Davie

College Football
Bob Davie, a veteran college football coach of 25 years, most recently as head coach at the University of Notre Dame, serves as an analyst on college football game telecasts and select studio shows.

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