The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

August 5, 2013

Nation's best defense wasn't good enough for 'Bama

— TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama coaches laid out the defensive stats from last season, but not in celebration of the nation's stingiest group.

The coaches used a team meeting to highlight the significant drop-off from the previous national championship edition — a year earlier. Being first isn't good enough when you're competing against yourself.

"They showed our stats from last season and pretty much we were first in the country," linebacker C.J. Mosley said at Sunday's team media day at Bryant-Denny Stadium. "But he compared us to the last two teams from Alabama and they had better stats than we did. At the end of the day we've got to make sure that we're being better than we were before and not better than other people."

Tough crowd. Sure, the Crimson Tide's 250 yards allowed a game led the nation, but that was 66.4 yards worse than 2011 for the two-time defending champions.

Points allowed, rushing defense and especially pass defense also took a step back. Alabama allowed 62 yards more on average through the air (173.6 from 111.5) in a secondary that featured top-10 NFL draft pick Dee Milliner.

The 2009 championship defense also was better in total and pass defense.

So the Tide has something to strive for in its pursuit of a third consecutive national title.

A defense that returns seven starters — including the All-American Mosley and safety HaHa Clinton-Dix — is hoping to reverse that statistical decline, whatever the national rankings indicate. Mosley said coach Nick Saban's message was "don't be satisfied."

"We kind of have a standard here at Alabama," defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said. "A lot of people think our standard is to be first in the SEC, be first in the country, first in our red zone and run defense. We really don't go by that motto.

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