Hate is a strong word. Then again, Alabama’s defense is pretty strong itself.
Following the Crimson Tide’s 10-0 win against LSU on Saturday, Alabama head coach Nick Saban referred to his defense as a “hateful” group of guys. Monday, Tide players didn’t disagree with their coach’s description.
“Mostly we are hateful guys,” Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson said. “We hate everybody on the other team. Everybody that is lined up across from you, we hate you. We are going to try to kill you.”
Fueled by trash talk heading into the matchup, Alabama limited LSU to 125 yards of offense. The Tide sacked LSU quarterback Danny Etling five times and held running back Leonard Fournette to 35 yards on 17 carries. After the game, Anderson said the Tide felt “disrespected” by LSU, particularly by comments from defensive back Dwayne Thomas who stated the Tigers would dominate the Tide’s offense.
That showed in the Tide’s play, as Alabama mowed down LSU’s offensive line while dealing out deadly blows throughout the game.
“Our front seven’s very hateful, especially the D-linemen,” Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. “They just play mad, to me, it seems.”
Saban said he embraces his defense’s mean streak, just as long as players know how to contain their anger on the field.
“We want them to be aggressive, we want them to be competitive, not in the real world but at least on the football field,” Saban said. “These characteristics are important in defensive players.”
Last week’s performance was good enough to garner Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week as a unit. It was only the second time in the history of the award that an entire defense received the honor.
It was a fitting feat for a defense that seems to suffocate opposing offenses from all angles every week. The Tide has a different leader in most defensive statistical categories. Linebacker Reuben Foster leads the team with 64 tackles, while Anderson leads in tackles for a loss with 12.5. Linebacker Tim Williams and defensive end Jonathan Allen share the lead in sacks with seven apiece.
Allen was thrust into the Heisman discussion following the Tide’s game against Texas A&M where he recorded his “Superman” sack of Trevor Knight and returned a fumble for a touchdown. Other than that, national praise has centered mostly around the Tide’s production as a unit.
That’s the way Alabama players want it to be.
“Guys aren’t talking about wanting 100 tackles, 60 tackles,” Anderson said. “We just want to stop the runs, stop the pass, stop everyone on the play.”
For the most part, Alabama defenders don’t care too much about individual awards. Anderson earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Monday after tallying six tackles, one for a loss, one sack, one pass breakup and a quarterback hurry against LSU. The senior has been one of the unsung heroes of Alabama’s defense this season. However, he scoffed at a question when being asked about being one of the underrated players on the team.
“I don’t get into all that man,” Anderson said. “Nobody is underrated to nobody in this building. We all value each other in this building. We know what we bring to the team and we know what every guy brings.”
Earlier this season, Anderson said maintaining the team’s chemistry played a big part in why he returned for his senior year. This season, Tide defenders have shown no problem dealing out love to one another, even if they hate everyone else.