Ellis Johnson’s Alabama vs. The Citadel Preview
The top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide and The Citadel Bulldogs square off for the first time in series history Saturday morning from Bryant-Denny Stadium.
During Thursday's edition of The Gary Harris Show, former SEC defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson provided his thoughts on the upcoming game.
In addition to his stops as defensive coordinator at Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, Mississippi State and Clemson, Johnson served as head coach at The Citadel and Southern Miss.
During Johnson's tenure in Charleston, South Carolina, The Citadel lost their 2002 season opener to Nick Saban's LSU Tigers 35-10. The former SEC defensive coordinator relayed that experience in Baton Rouge when talking about The Citadel's first ever trip to Tuscaloosa.
"It's always a great experience because those young men come up and when they're in the seventh, eighth, ninth grade, they see themselves on that same level and most of them obviously miss that opportunity and play at a little lower level so these games are a lot of fun for them." Johnson said.
For the first time since a 2011 contest against Georgia Southern, Alabama will face an offense that operates a triple option attack. Johnson mentioned how he was surprised that Saban agreed to schedule a triple option team on the Crimson Tide's schedule.
"I'm very surprised that Coach (Nick) Saban put them on the schedule because it's not getting ready for this in two or three days. He's got good enough plays. They can handle it. There may be five plays the whole games where somebody missed an assignment or something and The Citadel gets a decent play, but other than that, they're too physical up front." Johnson said.
The former Alabama defensive coordinator further explained why going against a triple option offense can be an issue for the defense that does not see it on a regular basis.
"It's the style of blocking too. It's not that you don't see it a whole lot. It's the risk of an ankle injury or a strained knee or something like that, a lot of cut blocking on the back side and all that. The second thing though is that it takes you out of playing your base defense for four or five days." Johnson said.
Johnson later discussed Saban's stance on whether to play Tua Tagovailoa this week, the culture at The Citadel and his views of the rest of the Southeastern Conference.
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