PHOENIX — Gary Danielson has called a bunch Alabama games this year and a bunch of SEC games over a bunch of years, and he thinks Georgia getting Mel Tucker as defensive coordinator is a big deal.
Danielson, the SEC football lead analyst for CBS Sports the last 10 seasons, said he, too, had heard that Tucker was going to join the Bulldogs and that UGA was getting more than just an experienced coach.
“I thought Mel was one of the least spoken-about improvements on the Alabama football team this year,” said Danielson, who did four Alabama games this season, including the one against Georgia. “He took more of an NFL style approach to their secondary. In the NFL, you have to have your safeties be able to go out and cover slots. It’s hard to be a ‘box’ safety if you can’t cover. Frankly, Georgia’s done that very well in the past.”
But the biggest improvement made in Crimson Tide’s secondary, Danielson said, was the play of their cornerbacks in run support. Alabama didn’t have its usual resident all-star at the position this season, but rotated as many as six players there each game.
“Their big game of the year was against LSU and the big question was whether those corners would be willing to hit,” Danielson said. “And LSU challenged them to play in the box and they all did. And that’s straight from the toughness that Mel Tucker brought to the table.”
Tucker, 42, joined Alabama as assistant head coach and defensive backs coach this past season. He came there after three stints in the NFL as a defensive coordinator, most recently for the Chicago Bears.
Bruce Feldman of FoxSports.com cited a source Thursday saying Tucker was coming with Smart to Georgia. Smart, the Crimson Tide’s defensive coordinator since 2008, accepted the head coaching job at Georgia on Dec. 6.