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Oct 22, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (93) hits Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Trevor Knight (8) during the first quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

SEC Championship Preview: Alabama Defense

The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide continue to roll over any and all opponents.  Although the Tide and head coach Nick Saban would say it is due to an overall team effort, the Alabama defense deserves much of the credit.  Their defense is ranked first in the country in rushing defense, scoring defense, third down defense, and total defense.  The unit plays lights out and hasn’t allowed a touchdown in over a month. They are sure to put up another strong effort against the Florida Gators in the 2016 SEC Championship.

The Standouts

Senior defensive end Jonathan Allen leads the charge for Alabama’s defense.  Allen is 6-foot-three and 294 pounds, and chose to forgo the NFL Draft after his junior season to continue to hone his skills and finish his degree.  Allen leads the team with 13 quarterback hurries and is responsible for seven sacks.  He also has scored two touchdowns and is a finalist for three different top defensive honors: the Nagurski, Bednarik and Hendricks awards.  His teammate Shaun Dion Hamilton says that Allen’s work ethic translates to his success on gameday.

Junior linebacker Dion Hamilton has produced a consistent effort all season to aid the overall defensive performance.  In regards to the SEC Championship on Saturday, Dion Hamilton says it is important to stop an explosive game from Florida wide receiver Antonio Callaway, who had a record breaking 85-yard punt return in last year’s SEC Championship game.

Sep 10, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt reacts during the game against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Tide defeated the Hilltoppers 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 10, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt reacts during the game against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Tide defeated the Hilltoppers 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The Coach

Many players attribute the defensive domination to defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Pruitt coached the Crimson Tide defensive backs from 2010-2012, before taking two jobs as the defensive coordinator first at Florida State and then at Georgia.  After UGA hired former Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart as head coach, Pruitt returned back to Alabama to command the defense.  Senior defensive end  Jonathan Allen says the Alabama players welcomed Pruitt’s return.

Watch the 2016 SEC Championship Saturday at 4.

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