Alabama looks to rediscover identity this season


Coach Saban discussed the upcoming game against Wisconsin during a press conference. CW | Layton Dudley

Tyler Waldrep

Times are changing in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but coach Nick Saban would like to turn the clock back.

“The dynamics of Alabama football has changed a little bit over the last couple of years,” Saban said. “I have been anxious to get back to what we used to do.”

Getting back to its roots on defense is something Alabama needs to happen sooner rather than later. If the Crimson Tide is going to have success against Wisconsin this week then the team will likely have to stop the run.

Saban said the team has reviewed game tape from Wisconsin and from Pittsburgh where Wisconsin coach, Paul Chryst, coached prior to this season.

“Paul has always been sort of that background of Wisconsin type run the ball,” Saban said. “[He] also has [a] pro [style] background in terms of the things that they did at Pitt where they were a little more balanced.”

One of the guys that could help Alabama out this weekend is a freshman. Daron Payne was listed as a co-first string nose guard alongside senior Darren Lake.

“[Daron’s] very explosive, quick [and] can play with power,” Saban said. “We have given him a lot of reps and so he may have a role in this game.”

Even if Alabama can limit or shut down Wisconsin’s ground game the defense’s work isn’t done there. The secondary will have to take away the passing game or stopping the ground game won’t matter.

Saban said he is confident in the team’s backup defensive backs as well as the starters. Redshirt freshman corner Marlon Humphrey is one of the guys that has really grown up.

“[Marlon] is more confident in terms of what to do and how to do it,” Saban said. “He’s really worked hard to, in practice every day, to try to improve himself. He’s been very very competitive.”

Saban said the offense has had an easier time preparing for Wisconsin in terms of footage. Saban said they were able to focus on Wisconsin’s defense since the Badger’s defensive coordinator did not change.

What Alabama’s offense perhaps can’t prepare for is who the starting quarterback will be. Saban said he has confidence that Jake Coker, Cooper Bateman and Alec Morris could do well this weekend, but he said he will not rush to name a starter.

“I just would like to see somebody win the team over which may not happen until they play,” Saban said. “A lot of people have success playing two quarterbacks especially if they have a different style, which a couple of our guys do have a different style.”

Whichever quarterbacks see playing time against Wisconsin will need the receivers to help them out. Saban said he has confidence in a number of guys at this position as well such as ArDarius Stewart and Richard Mullaney.

“We’ve talked a lot about establishing an identity and now’s the time to establish the identity of a dangerous team,” Saban said. “Tradition is always kind of under construction. Identity is not something that you inherit or assume or get from somebody else.”