Stuart McNair

Know Your Foe - Alabama Offensive Line

Following Alabama’s 2015 national championship season, Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban had a vacancy on his offensive coaching staff with the retirement of Bobby Williams, who had tutored Bama tight ends for nine years.

Saban decided to add a second offensive line coach by giving Mario Cristobal — who had been coaching the line since 2013 — responsibility for the tackles and tight ends. Alabama added Brent Key to coach guards and centers.

Alabama faced some rebuilding on the offensive line with the loss of center Ryan Kelly, winner of the 2015 Remington Award as the nation’s top center and a first round NFL draft choice, and right tackle Dominick Jackson.

On the plus side, the Tide returned All-America left tackle Cam Robinson (6-6, 310) for his third year as a starter, Freshman All-Southeastern Conference left guard (6-4, 304), and right guard Alphonse Taylor (6-5, 345).

The Saban Process includes all offensive linemen learning more than one position, a practice that provides some insurance when players are lost and overall depth.

The most critical position to fill was center — the man who handles the ball on every play and who makes the offensive line calls. Bama spent the spring and most of preseason camp wit Pierschbacher working at center. About a week before the season-opener against Southern Cal, however, the Tide made a switch. Pierschbacher went back to his left guard position and Bradley Bozeman (6-5, 319) was moved from backup right guard to center.

Stuart McNair

Bozeman had played as a backup to Kelly in 2014, including starting two games when Kelly was injured, and he has had an excellent season. Kelly’s backup last year, J.C. Hassenauer (6-2, 299) is now Bozeman’s relief man.

The other starting position to be filled was right tackle. Jonah Williams (6-5, 296), a true freshman, entered Alabama last January and went through spring practice, emerging as the No. 1 right tackle. He was named to the SEC All-Freshman team after starting all 13 games for the Tide in his rookie season.

Taylor and Lester Cotton (6-4, 319), a converted tackle, split time the first half of the season at right guard, Cotton starting the first three games, Taylor the next four. In that fourth start, Taylor suffered a concussion and was not cleared to play again through the Tide’s SEC Championship Game, and must be considered doubtful for the College Football Playoff Game against Washington in Atlanta on Dec. 31.

Cotton returned to the starting lineup for three games, but Bama moved senior Korren Kirven (6-4, 311), a former defensive lineman, to starter at that position for the last three games.

The key performer on the offensive line is Robinson, an Outland Trophy finalist and All-America, and selected by the SEC head coaches as winner of the Jacobs Trophy, given to the best blocker in the SEC. The junior is projected as a first round NFL draft choice.

Alabama Offensive Line Depth Chart

Left Tackle

Cameron Robinson (6-6, 310, Jr.)
Matt Womack (6-7, 316, R-Fr.)

Left Guard

Ross Pierschbacher (6-4, 304, So.)
Lester Cotton (6-4, 319, So.)
Dallas Warmack (6-2, 292, So.)

Center

Bradley Bozeman (6-5, 319, Jr.)
J.C. Hassenauer (6-2, 299, Jr.)
Joshua Casher (6-1, 287, So.)

Right Guard

Korren Kirven (6-4, 311, Sr.)
Joshua Casher (6-1, 287, So.)
Brandon Kennedy (6-3, 301, R-Fr.)

Right Tackle

Jonah Williams (6-5, 296, Fr.)
Korren Kirven (6-4, 311, Sr.)

Alabama leads the SEC in in scoring at 40.5 points per game and is second in total offense (471.3 yards per game), rushing offense (245.0 yards per game) and yards per rushing attempt (5.7). In 13 games Alabama allowed 21 sacks and 38 quarterback pressures.


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