Seth McLaughlin Was Key for Alabama’s Win
Seth McLaughlin, the starting center on the refurbished offensive line, helped Alabama defeat Arkansas 49–26 with a solid running game. There was much discussion about the offensive line's improvement this offseason compared to the previous season after Alabama gained 317 yards rushing. McLaughlin, who led the Tide to a dominant day on the ground, was one of the essential components of the Alabama front.
The Buford, Georgia native began the season sharing time at center with senior Darrian Dalcourt. Last season, Dalcourt was injured late in the season, and Seth McLaughlin stepped in and performed admirably for an inconsistent front. His first start came against Georgia, who had the top defense in the country at the time, in the 2021 SEC Championship Game. Bryce Young had a big day against the Bulldogs with 421 yards passing and four touchdowns with McLaughlin at the center. Seth McLaughlin helped improve the offensive line by blocking well and having a high football IQ against a defense that produced six future first-round draft picks, including the number one pick.
This season has been a year of competitiveness for Alabama at every position, particularly on the offensive line. Early in September, head coach Nick Saban discussed competition at every position.
“We have competition on our team,” Saban said. “We have good players. I have in my mind seven or eight guys that can play winning football on the offensive line. I'm gonna play them all."
McLaughlin was given his moment yesterday and seized it as the club ran roughshod over Arkansas.
The junior center has seen some action in games when he did not start. He played 20 snaps at Utah State, 16 snaps versus ULM, and 11 snaps versus Vanderbilt. McLaughlin had important blocks that cleared the openings for the three big runs against Arkansas. McLaughlin executed a tremendous seal block on Arkansas' standout linebacker to open the space for Jahmyr Gibbs' first touchdown run for 72 yards. Later, on the 77-yard touchdown, he did the same thing for Gibbs.
Saban has talked about competition on a weekly basis. With Texas A&M coming to Tuscaloosa in a primetime SEC battle next week, the competition in practice will be even fiercer than usual. Both McLaughlin and Dalcourt have had strong starts to the season as starters, so it will be interesting to see how Saban decides who will start against the Aggies.