Smart: Alabama defense needs to measure up to standard beyond topping national rankings

Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart says last year's defense was "not exactly up to par."

Never mind that the group gave up fewer yards than any other defense in the country. Smart said at Sunday's media day that the Crimson Tide's standards are set by recent Alabama defenses, not leading the nation.

By that gauge, he says Alabama didn't measure up last season.

The Tide still was good enough to win a second straight national title. There was a significant statistical decline from 2011, though.

This Alabama defense returns seven starters, including All-America linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety HaHa Clinton-Dix. Coach Nick Saban also emphasized recruiting "fast-twitch" pass rushers to combat the spread offenses that presented issues last season.

The Tide faces seven teams that employ a no-huddle style.