Tide Gets New Look on Defense

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Keith Saunders and Ezekial Knight are playing new positions on Alabama's defenses, but you wouldn't know it talking to coach Nick Saban.

Saunders and Knight have been outside linebackers since the start of spring practice, but the fact the two seniors played defensive end last year doesn't mean much to Saban.

In Saban's defensive scheme with three down linemen and four linebackers, that's just where guys like Saunders and Knight go.

The change is just one example of the way the Crimson Tide defense is evolving under Saban and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.

The past four seasons, the Crimson Tide has employed a four-three defensive system, with four linemen and three linebackers. There was little blitzing, stunting, or trickery under former defensive coordinator Joe Kines, and Alabama had the nation's top defense in 2005.

But when Mike Shula and his staff were fired, out went the four-three and in came the three-four.

Saban said he has used a similar system everywhere he has gone. With LSU, his defense helped lead the program to the 2003 Bowl Championship series national title, allowing just 67 yards rushing per game.