After a long offseason of hot, summer workouts in Tuscaloosa, the Alabama football team is days away from defending its national championship. 

The players are ready.

 

"(Saturday) means a lot to us," defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said. "We've been grinding hard for countless months. We're just excited to be able to go against some different faces and play a game."

The Crimson Tide won't waste anytime finding out how good the 2016 team is because a talented USC squad comes in with high expectations and ranks 20th in the country.

"As a competitor, you always want to face the best," Allen said. "We're excited for the opportunity. We're excited for them to try to run the ball down the middle. As a defensive lineman, we love that physicality aspect of the game so we're just excited."

Saturday could be one of the toughest opponents for the Alabama defense all season. After years of playing under defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, the team now takes direction from Jeremy Pruitt.

Allen said the goal is to always keep getting better, but the defense's focus is to put forth its best effort each week.

"You always want to be better than the year before," Allen said. "But probably the bigger goal is to be just the best you can. As a defense, if we go out there and we feel like we've competed to the best of our abilities, there's nothing else you can do."