Alabama linebacker admits it’s hard not to hit quarterbacks during scrimmages


Terrell Lewis will be one of Alabama’s main pass rushers in 2018.

Matthew Speakman

They wear a black jersey for a reason.

Alabama aims to keep its quarterbacks safe during the spring season. The players wear the black jersey to keep them from taking hits and suffering injuries. 

Still, when a player is running full speed, trying to get to the quarterback during a scrimmage, it can be hard to slow down.

One Alabama quarterback was a victim during the team’s Saturday scrimmage.

“Mac Jones took a couple bangs,” said linebacker Terrell Lewis.

One play in particular, it wasn’t just Lewis who couldn’t slow up. A ferocious front seven got the best of Jones.

“There was one play he got hit by like three people,” Lewis said. “One person hit him and banged into the other person. It was like a pinball machine or something.”

Lewis and his fellow pass rushers are taught to be ‘alpha dogs’ by coach Nick Saban from day one. A strong pass rush is one of Alabama’s calling cards. New defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi, who coached the outside linebacker group previously, turns up the heat and brings a high-energy attitude to the defense.

Lewis admitted that it’s hard to stop on a dime when the quarterback is right there and he’s in that mindset.

“Sometimes it is, especially if you see him right there and want to change your speed, but you know you don’t want to hit him,” Lewis said. “So, it’s like you’re rushing and then debating on how he’ll throw the ball or something. It’s like you want to get your sack. You want to get your production points and stuff like that. It gets a little confusing sometimes, but yeah, it’s hard to slow down.”

A quarterback has to take a hit at some point from a guy like Lewis even if Alabama wants to keep those players healthy. The players still have to play, even if it’s just a scrimmage.

While their taught not to take any contact, the quarterbacks are  going to act like it’s a real game.

The linebackers are still going to do their best to hold up, no matter who is behind center.

“We try to stay off all of the quarterbacks,” Lewis said. “Of course we’re worried about all of the guys. I mean, shoot, Tua (Tagovailoa) had a play where he was trying to get a fumble recovery, and he got the fumble recovery before Chris Allen did and got up and just shook his hand off. So, I mean, he’s a tough guy. We’ve got tough quarterbacks, but we definitely try to stay off of them.”

Even when they take a hit, the quarterbacks don’t complain. Lewis said he knew Jones wouldn’t complain after taking a brutal hit. He added that Tagovailoa moved on from that hit. 

Saban still tells the linebacking group to stay off of the signal callers, because right now, Alabama is limited at that position. 

Whether the linebackers can flip the switch and stop on a dime remains to be seen.