“You know what you’re job is. You know what it takes to get your job done, but you have to ‘man up,’” said senior defensive end Wallace Gilberry.
“It's just a matter of doing the right things,” said junior safety Rashad Johnson. “If a play should happen where we look back for the ball, when we weren’t in ‘fade,’ then other times, we were in a blitz, and (needed to) just get the guy on the ground, or slow him down until your help gets there.”
Regarding losses like FSU And Georgia, “You just have to live through them and try and move on,” Johnson added. “That’s just how it goes. We have to (allow) no big plays. That’s part of our game plan when we go in. No big runs. No big passes. When you give up big plays, you lose games.”
One Tider who gave up such plays was sophomore cornerback Marquis Johnson. “He’s ok. The guys are picking him up, (and) letting him know everything’s all right,” said Rashad Johnson. “Everybody’s going to make mistakes. You just live through them, and learn how to get better at it.”
The Houston Cougars, this week’s homecoming opponent, come in with a record of 2-2 and an offense that likes to spread things out, using multiple receivers and often one or no running backs.
“I heard that their offense is very unorthodox,” said Johnson, the Tide’s leading interceptor with two. “It’s going to be a test for the defense. That’s a chance for the corners and DBs, so I’m ready for it.”
Pass-rushers like Gilberry tend to enjoy facing such offenses saying, “Definitely unconventional. They’re one of those teams you just definitely can’t take lightly. You know it’s the homecoming (game). You’re expected to win you’re homecoming, but with a team like Houston , you definitely have to be prepared. “
Gilberry’s co-starter at defensive end, junior Bobby Greenwood, is unlikely to play against Houston and may miss more time than that with an ankle injury. Gilberry knows the already-thin Tide defensive line will have to pull together.
“Its definitely tough, because Greenwood is a guy that you can count on. You can count on him doing his job, being in the right place at the right time. Brandon Deaderick, he’s definitely not a step away (from Greenwood ). He came in during the (FSU) game, and he played well. He did the things that (defensive line) coach (Bo) Davis asked him to do. Hat’s off… to Deaderick.”
Can redshirt freshman Milton Talbert help against pass-happy Houston? “Oh yeah. He is (ready), but… he’s young, but he’s definitely becoming his own man. Like I say, it's all about manning up.”
Gilberry says the Tide defense is making progress under new coordinator Kevin Steele. He says that side of the ball has come “light years."
"We’re definitely not where we need to be. I’m not going to say that, but we’re definitely making progress. We’re doing things on defense that we weren’t able to do a couple of weeks ago. Things like making the checks on the field, and really understanding what’s going on when they make the checks. We’ve definitely progressed," he said.
Junior outside linebacker Ezekial Knight was named co-defense player of the week by the Tide coaching staff. He, too, sees a progression of sorts by the Tide defense, especially the linebacking corps.
“I feel right now we’re on a different level than we were at the beginning of the season," he said. "We know a little bit more where to be. We know exactly what we’re doing, now.
“I think that’s starting to show up. We just have to keep working. We still mess up on a lot of small things. If we get that straightened out, I think we’ll be all right. I think everything is starting to come together.”
Knight and his teammates will find out if that’s true when Bama and Houston tee it up at 2:07 p.m. CDT Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.