User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto Racing
Horses
Boxing/MMA
More
Betting Tools

 
No. 4 Alabama's defense coming off 2 rough games

New Sportsbook.com customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

   

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Alabama spent two months barely seeming to miss all those defensive stars now in the NFL.

Advertisement
The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide has certainly felt their absence the past two weeks when it became evident this defense doesn't quite measure up to the lofty standards set by the 2009 and 2011 national championship groups.

The still-formidable defense has had uncharacteristic missed tackles and struggles getting the opposing offense off the field on third downs against No. 8 LSU and No. 9 Texas A&M. No game-changing pass rusher like linebacker Courtney Upshaw has emerged, either.

Alabama (9-1), which hosts Western Carolina (1-9) on Saturday, was leading the nation in every major defensive category just like last year's group before showing more vulnerability against the Tigers and Aggies. Those teams both managed more yards and points than any other offense had against the Tide this season.

``The last two weeks, lots of issues not getting off the field on third down, which hasn't been a real factor all year long,'' Alabama coach Nick Saban said. ``But in the last two weeks, we gave up 14 points in the second half at LSU, going 0-for-7 on third downs during that time and we started this (Texas A&M) game 0-for-7 on third down and got behind in the game because of it. When you create those situations you've got to get off the field.

``It's not just the pass rush. It's also the discipline of everybody doing what they're supposed to do in rush as well as coverage.''

In those two games, the defense has given up 853 yards, a 55-percent conversion rate on third downs - more than double the success rate going into those games - and scores on all but one of the opponents' seven trips inside Alabama's 20-yard line.

Only Georgia Southern's option attack managed to produce 300 yards against Alabama in 2011.

Most teams would still love to have Alabama's defensive issues this season, especially after losing three NFL first-round picks: safety Mark Barron, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and linebacker Dont'a Hightower. Plus, Upshaw was taken early in the second while noseguard Josh Chapman and cornerback DeQuan Menzie were also drafted.

Alabama still leads the nation in scoring defense and is second in total yards allowed. Plus, cornerback Dee Milliner and linebacker C.J. Mosley are both semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award given to the nation's top defensive player.

However, 13 SEC players have more sacks than the four produced by team leaders C.J. Mosley and Adrian Hubbard.

``I don't think we have a dominant rusher like we had a year ago,'' Saban said. ``I think we have guys that as a unit and as a group can be effective.''

Texas A&M's 29 points was the most allowed by the Tide since a 35-21 midseason loss to South Carolina in 2010.

Of course, Alabama faces few such fast-paced offenses or dual-threat quarterbacks like the Aggies' Johnny Manziel.

Saban said the Tide couldn't get lined up eight times when Texas A&M snapped quickly.

``That's just not good,'' he said. ``It's not good coaching. It's not good for the players to have a chance to be successful and execute. That's something that we need to work on more in the offseason and do a better job of.''

Lester said he can't remember a two-game stretch where Alabama had so many missed tackles, some of them attributable to the slippery Manziel.

Saban said that has become a concern.

``We've had more missed tackles, we've had more yards after catch, after first contact or first missed tackle, especially on space plays,'' he said.

``That's one thing we've always been is a good tackling team and a good tackling secondary. That is something that we need to improve on.''

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
Edwards: College Playoff Props
Dabo: QB Stoudt Clemson's starter
Kentucky QB Whitlow plans to transfer
Allen leads resurgent Arkansas attack
Sark: Kessler is still USC's starting QB
Panthers finish spring with dodgeball
Gordon eager for Wisconsin fall camp
Malone stars in Orange & White Game
Cross shines in Nebraska's spring game
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NCAAFB College Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
VegasInsider.com Gold Membership
2013 CFB SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Joe Williams + 1921
Joe Nelson + 1446
Bruce Marshall + 1350
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
Chip Chirimbes + 200
The SportsBoss + 200
Michael Black + 100
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Joe Nelson 60 %
Doc's Sports 57 %
Joe Williams 57 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Joe Williams + 1312
Brian Edwards + 580
James Manos + 443
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Joe Williams + 1283
Jimmy Boyd + 966
James Manos + 756
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Mike Rose + 1100
Doc's Sports + 1090
Joe Nelson + 940
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and recieve access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!