A Revamped Alabama Offensive Line
The last few years Alabama offensive line play have been a rollercoaster for Alabama fans. In the last three years, there have been three offensive line coaches, numerous NFL draft picks, and frequent rotation.
The 2020 Alabama offensive line was one of the most dominant offensive lines of the Saban era. In 2021, there were issues including lack of experience on the offensive line and a new offensive line coach. In 2022, the Alabama offensive line wants to be more physical and effective in protection.
After the 2020 season, four members of the Joe Moore Award winning offensive line departed for the NFL Draft. Exits included Alex Leatherwood, Landon Dickerson and Deonte Brown.
In 2021, Doug Marrone replaced the exiting Kyle Flood as the new offensive line coach. Two starters returned including the future first-round pick Evan Neal and junior Emil Ekiyor. Struggles were evident in the Iron Bowl, as Bryce Young was sacked seven times.
Eric Wolford replaced Marrone as the offensive coach following the 2021 season. Nick Saban believes Wolford helps reinforce the mentality of the offensive line to be a more dominant and physical group.
Saban said the offensive line's performance against Arkansas was their best of the year and that he wants to string similar performances together.
Senior offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor brings the most experience to the 2022 offensive line. He was part of the 2020 Joe Moore Award winning offensive line and knows the standard of physicality the offensive line should display.
"Being more physical is something everyone in the offensive line took personal," Ekiyor said. "I think it starts in practice, developing those habits and making sure we are physical at all times."
To start the 2022 season, there have been fresh faces on the offensive line. Vanderbilt transfer Tyler Steen and sophomore JC Latham anchor the tackle positions. Freshman Tyler Booker has rotated at the guard position, exemplifying the physicality Alabama wants in the offensive line.
There is friendly competition in the offensive line room to see who can knock down the most defensive lineman.
"In the o-line room, we always try to count the knockdowns we have," Ekiyor said. "Booker has done a great job doing that and his preparation as a freshman is beyond his years."