Major injury news from Tuscaloosa casts a pall on the Alabama football season. Reportedly, Dylan Moses tore an ACL in practice Tuesday and is not expected to return this season.
Ask any Alabama football fan who the Crimson Tide could least afford to lose to injury. The two names given in response would repeatedly be Tua Tagovailoa and Dylan Moses. It could even be argued the Crimson Tide could win with a lesser talented quarterback than Tua. The Crimson Tide has so many offensive weapons, a game-managing Mac Jones might be enough.
The situation is very different at the thin inside linebacker roster. Losing Moses means losing the Tide’s alpha on defense, the play-caller for the defensive front and one of the best linebackers in the nation. No one else on the Crimson Tide roster comes close to having Moses’ attributes as the Mike linebacker.
The guys listed behind Moses on the recent Alabama football depth chart are freshmen Shane Lee and sophomore Markail Benton. Benton might get the nod because the idea of the Alabama Crimson Tide starting two, true freshmen at inside linebacker seems inconceivable.
Based on spring training and fall camp, Shane Lee seems like the better choice. Lee is a future Crimson Tide star who should be more than adequate in run defense. Insiders question if he has adequate pass coverage skills at this point of his brief career. Benton or Ale Kaho both offer considerable athletic ability. There are questions of whether either has the full confidence of the Alabama football staff.
Comparing the three linebackers, Shane Lee seems to offer the most complete package of skills and the greatest opportunity to perform consistently.
Many Alabama football fans worry about any of these young men taking over the defensive, play-calling role of a Mike linebacker. That may not be necessary. The Crimson Tide staff could decide to have a safety relay the calls to an inside linebacker. Shyheim Carter, who knows the defense better than any other player is well-suited for the task.
Is it possible an outside linebacker, say, Chris Allen, could be moved to inside linebacker? Yes, a move could happen with Allen but doing it so close to a game is not a likely solution.