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October 4, 2011

Notebook: UA offensive line comes together

TUSCALOOSA | A week ago, University of Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones said the line's performance against the Arkansas Razorbacks had been its best to that point in the season.

Move over, bacon. There's something meaner.

The Crimson Tide offensive front made the same case just a week later in a road game against Florida with 226 rushing yards -- nearly all of it between the tackles -- in a dominant performance against one of the SEC's better defensive fronts. Consider UA's pass protection allowed no sacks and only two quarterback hurries as well, and it's clear the UA offensive front is making some quick strides as the season approaches the midway point.

"I thought the line offensively played very well in the last game. We got a hat on a hat. We got movement. You don't run the ball as effectively as we ran if the offensive line doesn't play well," said UA coach Nick Saban. "We had good protection for the most part, never gave up any sacks or negative plays that way."

The UA offensive line delivered a month's worth of effective blocking to the Florida Gators Saturday. How so? Florida's rush defense entered the game having allowed 226 rushing yards to four previous opponents combined this season. And on a single night, Alabama doubled that total to the yard.

"I think we've made significant strides. That's really the mark of a good team is when you make improvements from Week one to Week two and on and on. Every week we want to play our best game, and I think we've up to this point done that," said Jones. "I think this was probably our best game so far as a unit."

The Crimson Tide leads the Southeastern Conference in rushing offense at 229 yards per game, and also leads the league in rushing touchdowns (17) and yards per carry at 6.0 per rush. UA's upcoming opponent, Vanderbilt, has been stingy against the run defensively this season, ranking fourth in the league at 97 yards allowed per game. UA running back Trent Richardson said the Commodores, under a new coaching staff, have shown a variety of complicated blitzes.

"I think we've made significant improvements, but at the same time we know we have a ways to go to reach our potential," Jones added.

Quotable
"We weren't able to finish last year and we got beat by South Carolina around this time last year. We want to finish this year and just go forward (with) that success that we're gonna have later on in the future. ... We're hungry. We've got a chip on our shoulder." - Linebacker Nico Johnson.

Did you know?
At three per game, Alabama ranks second in the nation among 120 teams in fewest penalties. The Naval Academy leads the NCAA at 2.75 per game.

Tidebits
Injured linebacker C.J. Mosley (elbow) and running back Eddie Lacy (foot) dressed in full gear for Tuesday's practice but didn't fully participate in individual drills. Both were hurt against Arkansas. Lacy played sparingly against UF, while Mosley did not play at all. ... A photo of UA nose guard Josh Chapman was chosen for a regional Sports Illustrated cover this week. The feature story focuses on the strength of the UA defense.

Reach Chase Goodbread at chase.goodbread@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0196.


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