TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- One of the main question marks for this University of Alabama football team entering the season was who was going to rush the passer now that Courtney Upshaw and others departed for the NFL.
In the spring game, it looked like outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard would fill the void, but on Saturday, it was redshirt freshman Xzavier Dickson, playing opposite of Hubbard, who wreaked havoc in the backfield against Western Kentucky.
Dickson recorded just one tackle in the game, a sack that caused a fumble and resulted in a turnover, but he came close on a number of other plays, forcing the Hilltoppers’ quarterback to throw it sooner than he wanted.
“Xzavier Dickson has always been a good pass rusher,” Hubbard said. “It helps with me and him pass rushing on both sides because it’s kind of hard for them to double team when they want to.
“He has come along a lot. He’s learning the defense. I’m teaching him a lot more of what the older guys, Courtney [Upshaw], Jerrell [Harris] and Alex Watkins, taught me.”
For both Dickson and Hubbard, it’s been a slow start to the season.
Against Michigan, the gameplan was to control quarterback Denard Robinson rather than rush him every play. On Saturday, the two outside linebackers blitzed more, and it resulted in three sacks and four quarterback hurries.
Fellow linebacker Nico Johnson believes they have yet to be fully unleashed.
“They’re working hard,” he said. “Right now, they’re being patient, taking what’s given and ready to work whenever their name is called or their number is called. They’ll be ready.”
They might have to be ready next week as the Crimson Tide facest its toughest test to date next week, a road game at Arkansas.