Alabama's defense faces different test in Fournette, LSU
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Alabama's defense has changed with the times.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide still has 300-pounders clogging the line of scrimmage, but nowadays the biggest stars are the hard-to-block pass rushers like Jonathan Allen, mobile linebacker Reuben Foster and cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick.
It's a group tailor made for stopping all those hurry-up, spread-you-out offenses pervading college football while still defending the run as well as any team in the nation. Alabama has an open date to prepare for a different kind of test: Leonard Fournette and No. 19 LSU's formidable running game next weekend in Baton Rouge.
"That's one of the things that we're going to have to do a good job of because we probably don't have as many big guys as we've had in the past, because we were built in the past for teams like LSU who were I-formation, run downhill, very physical offensive line," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "We're going to have to do a really good job with our guys up front. I think we've got some guys that can hang in there and play that type of game."
They certainly did last season when Alabama held Fournette to 31 yards.
The Tide has hardly gone soft - or small - since the days when hulking Terrence Cody was monopolizing multiple blockers. But Saban & Co. have loaded up with speedy edge rushers like Allen and Tim Williams along with the beef.