TideIllustrated - Alabama looks for 'different mentality' from offensive line
{{ timeAgo('2022-08-05 09:30:00 -0500') }} football Edit

Alabama looks for 'different mentality' from offensive line

The old adage that football games are “won and lost in the trenches” is at best an overused cliche — but just because it’s a frequent saying — doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

Alabama’s struggles along its offensive line were well-documented in 2021. Despite having the No. 5 scoring offense in the country, averaging 39.3 points per game, the team allowed 2.80 sacks per game, good for 107th in the country.

The inconsistency upfront resulted in more success in the passing game than the run game as the Crimson Tide averaged just 4.1 yards per rush, while tallying more than 340 yards per game through the air. Despite the trend for more passing in college football, Nick Saban stressed the importance of improving the run game and the role the offensive line plays in Alabama’s success on the ground.

“I don’t think there’s any question about the fact that we need to play better on the offensive line. We need to be more physical up front, first of all, and get movement on the run,” Saban said. “Getting more consistent and I think having more diversity in the running game would also help. I think the additions we made in the offseason is going to be helpful to that.”

In the offseason, Alabama brought in Vanderbilt transfer Tyler Steen to bolster the tackle spot. Steen is the favorite to start at left tackle as he started a combined 33 games at both tackle positions for the Commodores over the past three seasons.

Along with the addition of Steen, the Crimson Tide return four starters in Javion Cohen, Darrian Dalcourt, Emil Ekiyor Jr. and J.C. Latham. With the group’s experience comes leadership, an aspect Saban will rely heavily on to set the example for the rest of the team.

“We just have to have a different mentality up front in terms of the intangibles that we play with,” Saban said. “The toughness, the effort. The offensive line is a place where that gets established on your team. We need leadership so that the players actually understand the standard we need them to play to and somebody who is going to not accept the fact that guys aren’t playing that way.”

Alabama also bolstered its rushing attack by bringing in Georgia Tech running back Jahmyr Gibbs.

Although the Crimson Tide may be more inclined to showcase its running back depth rather than having one or two players carry the load, Gibbs’ pass-catching ability along with his ability to break off big runs, may warrant the return of a more balanced Alabama offense.

“I like the additions that we made in the running game to maybe add a little more consistency there, which is going to help play-action passes and a lot of other advantage throws that we can make that we can run the ball effectively,” Saban said. “I think it’s a very important part of what we need to improve on, but I’m kind of encouraged by it.”