Alabama's Phidarian Mathis ready for defense to step up in a 'whole new year'

Crimson Tide photos / Alabama fifth-year senior defensive end Phidarian Mathis is ready for a strong finish to his Crimson Tide career after amassing 31 tackles and five tackles for loss for last season's national champions.

All Alabama needed was last September's opening kickoff.

The Crimson Tide created pleasant memory after pleasant memory last football season in racking up a 13-0 record that culminated with a 52-24 trampling of Ohio State for the national championship. Alabama's 10 regular-season wins at the expense of Southeastern Conference foes established a record that may never be topped, given the scheduling adjustment that transpired due to the coronavirus outbreak, which required countless testing and numerous protocols.

Want the smile to disappear from the face of senior defensive end Phidarian Mathis? Ask him to recount those late, late summer weeks leading up to the 38-19 win at Missouri.

"Going into the season and not knowing if we were going to play or not was really tough," Mathis said last week at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama.