Cardwell: Another OL Option

It was late in the game against Florida, with Alabama needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion to tie the Gators, and with all the excitement not everyone noticed Evan Cardwell's big moment.

The redshirt freshman from Killen entered the game and took the place of Antoine Caldwell, Alabama's best offensive lineman. Caldwell didn't leave the game, but moved to left guard where he started 11 games last year to give the Tide better pass protection in the passing situation.

"Evan's done a great job," Caldwell said. "We study a lot and we pick up tendencies in defenses together. He's a smart kid and he's real aggressive on the field. He's one of the hardest workers on the offensive line. I joke around with my coach all the time about moving to offensive guard."

On Tuesday, Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said that was mainly a grouping used in exclusively passing situations for now, but as always he left open the possibility that such an alignment could be expanded.

"I loved it," Caldwell said of going back to his old position. "We practiced it ever since training camp started. I think coach thinks that I might be more of a better pass blocker than Justin Britt because Justin just got over to the offensive line."

"Evan Cardwell did a nice job stepping in," he said. "What I miss most about guard is you get to pull a lot and stuff. At center you don't get to do that, but I don't want to get too used to it there."

On Tuesday Cardwell seemed more relieved than anything. After spending last season as one of the toughest players on the scout team, getting his first action in an important moment on the road was a milestone.

"It was nice to get to go in and play in a big SEC game on the road and get that out of the way," he said. "All I can do is come out every day to get better. I come out and work hard, and things work out."

As for the possibility of his role expanding, he said "Nothing's been said, but I know if I don't give them any reason to doubt their confidence then I should be okay. I didn't have that many snaps, but the ones that I was in, let's say I didn't do anything wrong, but I can always do better."

A side effect of the move shouldn't be lost. Last year Alabama suffered losses to LSU and Auburn after losing starting center JB Closner. Alabama hadn't played another center for an extended period in a meaningful game all year to that point.

"When I made that switch over we saw it as a deal to help the offensive line depth wise," Caldwell said. "If I had've been ready last year when JB went down I probably would have stepped in. I can't make that call for him, but it probably would have helped the team out a little bit better."


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