A look around the SEC

Take a team-by-team look at the SEC.

Updated: November 3, 2004, 4:40 PM ET
By Chris Low | Special to ESPN.com
Which coach was dabbing at tears at his weekly press conference? Which team has relied upon freshmen to score nearly half of its touchdowns this season? Which player considers his team the "Raiders of college football"? Our SEC notebook addresses those questions and much more.

Alabama

  • How good is this Alabama defense?

    Mississippi State head coach Sylvester Croom suggests as good as the famed 1992 Alabama defense, which was the backbone of the Crimson Tide's 1992 national championship team.

    Croom gets to find out first hand this Saturday when his Bulldogs take on the Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium in a game that already features its share of subplots.

    "This defense may be their best ever – bar none," said Croom, who knows a little something about Alabama defenses having played at Alabama and coached under Paul "Bear" Bryant for seven seasons.

    "Those guys are extremely fast. They tackle well. They are by far the best defensive team we've seen this year."

    Anthony Bryant
    Alabama's Anthony Bryant (97) is anxious to meet opposing QBs, like the Vols' Erik Ainge.
    The numbers don't lie.

    Alabama leads the country in total defense (221.8 yards), pass defense (106.6 yards) and pass efficiency defense (83.3). The Crimson Tide are also ninth nationally in scoring defense (13.5 points).

    Perhaps most impressive about what defensive coordinator Joe Kines has been able to do is that there's not a surplus of dominant defensive linemen on this team. But linebackers Cornelius Wortham, Freddie Roach and DeMeco Ryans are the ultimate playmakers.

  • A severely-limited offense is the only thing holding the Crimson Tide back right now from being a team that could spend the holidays at a Florida bowl.

    Quarterback Spencer Pennington simply isn't a threat to hurt teams throwing the ball. The constant has been the Tide's running game, but even that took a hit against Tennessee with the loss of fullback Tim Castille to a season-ending knee injury.

    This will be Alabama's first game without Castille, and it will be interesting to see how the Tide adapts without Castille.

    They might not be able to run some of their run-intensive packages without Castille in the lineup, although Kenneth Darby has filled in nicely for injured tailback Ray Hudson.

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