Saban: O-Line “Has Enough Ability,” Stresses Improvement
The Crimson Tide offensive line is always a point of emphasis for the Alabama fanbase. Winning the trenches is a big deal in the sport, and because historically the Crimson Tide dominate in this regard, the necessity for an imposing unit is an understood aspect of the game.
The 2020 Crimson Tide offensive line won the Joe Moore Award practically unopposed. Led by Landon Dickerson, the unit of Alex Leatherwood, Deonte Brown, Emil Ekiyor and Evan Neal was a dominant force, paving the way for Najee Harris and protecting Mac Jones en route to a historical offensive performance.
The same can not be said for this year's offensive line through eight games of the 2021 season.
Alabama's offensive line has allowed 18 sacks this season. Mac Jones was sacked 16 times in 13 games last year.
Last year, Alabama averaged 183.5 rushing yards per game. This year, it's 171 yards per game.
While there's a slight dip, it's nothing catastrophic. The offensive line doesn't live up to one of the best the program has ever seen, but it's holding up well on its own.
Head coach Nick Saban was asked about his team's starting five and suggested an effort towards improvement be the focus.
"I think that you know, our offensive line has enough ability to be a very effective, good unit. I think we've played really well at times this year," Saban said. "But, because of the inexperience, there's been, you know, a play here and a play there which is not what we'd like for it to be. We want to kind of continue to work on consistency up front, run and pass."
Saban, ever the purveyor of broadening a topic, continued to say the effort to improve should feed through the rest of the team to create value for the team.
It's certainly debatable, but there aren't many position groups that impact the value and success of a football team than the offensive line. This year's iteration is right on the brink of being a true success. Shoring up the pass protection and continuing to open holes for the running backs effectively will make Alabama's offense even more efficient than it is.