No matter how good you are in the game of football, a torn ACL can strike at any time and end your season. Saquon Barkley and other top talents have already had that happen to them this year. In 2019, one of the best college football players in the country, Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses, was that guy.
Tearing his ACL in practice, Moses, who was a projected slam dunk first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, was done for the season and had to return to Alabama once again. On Saturday, he made his return against Missouri. How did he look in his return from injury?
Alabama linebacker impresses against Mizzou
First, to place Moses’ return performance into context, I have to consider his part in the schematic gameplan on Saturday. Moving full time into the MIKE linebacker role or at times the ‘MACK’ linebacker role on Saturday, Moses was mostly tasked with stopping the run and keeping Shawn Robinson, Missouri’s mobile and elusive quarterback, in check. For his part in the schematic gameplan, he executed it to perfection.
This is part of where Moses excelled on Saturday. It was not dropping back in coverage, but playing downhill and using his athleticism and physicality to make an impact of Robinson’s poise in the pocket. When you have a player like Moses, it is desirable to scheme him open because of just how athletic he is. The Crimson Tide run a twist, and Moses runs free. That is only one part of how his physical attributes can be harnessed as weapons in a given gameplan.
Dylan Moses stands out as a blitzer
Another place where Moses was asked to work was as a spy. Notice how he does a great job of staying clean off the initial rush to spy Robinson. However, feigning the blitz right over the center, forcing him to become a man dead in the water, is a great schematic choice and a heads up play by Moses.
It allows each pass rusher to get a one-on-one matchup to possibly win. Moses himself ends up getting the sack, however, as he mirrors Robinson and chases him down once he escapes the pocket. This is teach tape on how to execute a spy.
This is yet another sack for Moses. It is not a spy, but he does an excellent job of keeping the outside contain as Robinson tries to roll outside. You can see how fast this guy gets from sideline-to-sideline just from this. He absolutely flies downhill. Moses does an outstanding job of staying square to the line as he moves laterally and then traps Robinson as he tries to escape the interior rush.
While speed option to the short side of the field is a little bit of a peculiar call on Missouri’s part, a lot of this is just a great play by Moses. His man is the running part, and he plays this pitch well. Yet again, he does a great job of staying square and disciplined as he mirrors the running back’s movements.
The best part of this play is how he breaks down to make the tackle. The front toe is pointing up, not laterally, and he has a direct shot on the running back from the way his feet are pointing to the angle of the running back. Moses is a highly efficient open-field tackler because of fundamentals like that.
What will Dylan Moses’ role be against Texas A&M?
The Crimson Tide have a big matchup against Kellen Mond and the 13th ranked Texas A&M Aggies. That could leave Moses in a completely different world as a result. While Mond can be elusive, he does not share the same characteristics that Robinson does in the open field. Instead, he is more of a honey hole thrower that tries to fit balls into tight windows and attack defenses downfield.
For a linebacker, that often means your part of the gameplan will be to slow down the running game. Moses and the rest of the linebackers will be thrown into the fire on run fits. However, since the Aggies love to air it out, he will drop back in coverage a lot more, too. Nick Saban runs a lot more Cover-3 and Cover-4 than any Cover-2 concept over the top, so it is unlikely we see Moses do too much in the way of being a deep middle of the field defender. However, defending underneath stuff is always likely.
Even more so, with Texas A&M loving to air it out, Moses could find himself being utilized as a blitzer once again on Saturday as Alabama tries to move to 2-0.