Alabama Football: Tide Proves Defense Still Wins Championships
With the proliferation of no-huddle offenses becoming the latest trend in college football, it's fitting that Nick Saban would aggressively speak out against the dangers those offenses pose to the future of the game.
As for the present, his program is the sport’s most shining example of an old football adage—defense wins championships.
Saban’s stance attacked the issue just like the way he coaches his defenses at Alabama to deal with such offenses (h/t, Andrew Gribble, al.com).
His mini-rant on the systems ran by the likes of Oregon and West Virginia amongst others may have come from a place of frustration, given his defensive background throughout his coaching career.
Despite the numerous rules that have been implemented to the advantage of offenses in general, Saban has mastered the art of adjusting his defenses and staying one step ahead of the nation’s brightest offensive minds.
The foundation of the nation’s No. 1 team begins and ends with a physical and overpowering defense, with players like Dee Milliner, Jesse Williams and C.J. Mosley ranking amongst the nation’s most dominant players at their respective positions.
While spread offenses have grown in popularity, Saban’s influence and his desire for balance on both sides of the ball have been felt—in the SEC and beyond, per Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated.
Consider that none of the SEC’s four teams currently residing in the Top 10 of the polls runs a spread offense, and each of those clubs rank in the nation’s top 20 in total defense.
Teams like Florida and Florida State—coached by Saban disciples Will Muschamp and Jimbo Fisher respectively—have turned their respective programs around by building foundations similar to what Saban has implemented in every coaching stop of his career.
Do you think it’s a coincidence that South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier learned to abandon the Fun 'n' Gun attack he constructed at Florida in the 1990s in favor of an offense that runs the ball and relies on its defense to win games?
That change in philosophy helped Spurrier—who ironically needled Saban about his legacy in the offseason—finally turn the Gamecocks' program into perennial contenders in the SEC East (h/t, Graham Watson, Yahoo! Sports).
Saban failed to mention that Alabama has successfully conquered several teams that employ spread offenses.
Perhaps the Tide’s signature win in its recent run winning two national titles in the last three seasons came against Urban Meyer’s 2009 Florida team—ironically, the last team to win two national titles in three years—that was led by a senior quarterback named Tim Tebow.
The result of that game—and the aftermath from it—shifted the balance of power in favor of Alabama and its resided in Tuscaloosa ever since.
So while the rest of the nation trumpets teams with offensive schemes like No. 2 Oregon as the future of college football, Saban and schools that employ similar philosophies will have to learn to adjust to slow those types of offenses down.
If recent history is any indicator, the game’s ultimate prize will continue to be won by teams that are able to adapt the fastest on the other side of the ball.
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