2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game Preview Series: Alabama Defense

Written by Brett Korpi

(Photo Credit: SaJorden Miller / The SkyBoat)

(Tampa, FL) – Welcome to the first part of our series of previews leading up to the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Which, is the much-hyped rematch between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson. Today we will break down the famed Alabama defense.

It is not hard to determine the reason for Alabama’s dominance this season. From, the embarrassment of USC in the season opener, to the rout of Washington the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, the Crimson Tide defense has been practically impenetrable.

The Tide rank in the top ten in nearly all team defensive statistics. They are the top team in total defense, rushing defense, scoring defense, and tied for first with Michigan in first down defense. The unit places third in team sacks, fifth in team passing efficiency defense, seventh in third-down defense, and ninth in team tackles for loss.

Head coach Nick Saban has at his fingertips the most feared personnel group in all of college football, the Alabama defensive line. Led by arguably the best player in the country, defensive end Jonathan Allen. According to CFB Film Room, number 93 is in the backfield a whole lot. He has accumulated 62 total tackles, 15 tackles for loss, nine sacks, 11 quarterback hits, and 27 hurries and three batted passes. He is no slouch at stopping the run with 19 stuffs. The big man also has two touchdowns on three fumble recoveries.

Allen is joined up front by nose tackle Da’ron Payne and defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson. Payne is credited with 31 total tackles on the year and three tackles for loss and one sack. He also added a score for the historically high scoring defense on a fumble recovery. Tomlinson racked up 58 total tackles, 4.5 for loss and three sacks, seven quarterback hits and a forced fumble.

When middle linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton went down with a torn ACL in the SEC championship game, there was some school of thought the group would take a step back. But, Rashaan Evans was not accounted for. In the Peach Bowl Evans, accounted for seven total tackles and a sack in his first career start. In a fill-in role through the season the junior accumulated 35 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

Evans, is joined in the inside by team leader in tackles Rueben Foster who has racked up 105 this season. Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson are on the outside. The group accounted for 42 stuffs this season. And, Anderson and Williams combined for 17 sacks and three fumble recoveries. They each took a turnover to the house.

The secondary will be the are most tested in the title game against the Clemson aerial attack. Quarterback Deshaun Watson hung up 405 yards on the Tide in last year’s game.

Marlon Humphrey and Anthony Averett will corners who will be in charge of locking down the outside. Humphrey has 33 tackles and three tackles for loss this season and adds another defensive touchdown. While, Averett has two interceptions to go along with 43 tackles, 3 for loss and a sack.

Ronnie Harrison and Minkah Fitzpatrick protect the group deep. Harrison has 76 tackles and two interceptions. And Fitzpatrick adds a team leading 6 picks, to go along with 62 tackles. They each had two defensive scores.

Saban will need the defense to continue to perform at their high standards in order to contain the high profiles offense of the Tigers.

The College Football Playoff National Championship will be played on Monday, January 9th at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Check back tomorrow for a preview of the group that has to prepare for the Crimson Tide defense, the Clemson offense.

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