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UA’s offensive line pounds Tigers, Jonah Williams earns SEC weekly honor

© Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time this season, offensive line coach Brent Key showed Alabama fans that he belongs on Nick Saban’s coaching staff. 

During his three seasons in Tuscaloosa, going back to 2016, the jury was out on whether Key was the ideal fit for the Crimson Tide. Under his leadership, the offensive line has had issues with inconsistent play in both run blocking and pass protection. While it has been better on the latter of the two, Key got the group to display dominance in the rushing attack versus LSU. 

Alabama’s trench monsters neutralized the Tigers’ front seven, which allowed for its running backs to have its second-best performance of the year.

Behind the likes of Jonah Williams, Ross Pierschbacher, Jedrick Wills, Alex Leatherwood and Deonte Brown, the Tide rushed for 281 yards with two touchdowns on 37 carries. Along with the unit averaging 7.6 yards per rush, Damien Harris recorded his second 100-yard game of the season and ninth of his career. 

The senior from Kentucky led the team in rushing with 107 yards and one score on 19 carries and averaged 5.6 yards an attempt. Najee Harris benefitted from trench mafia up front, as he turned in a solid night at Tiger Stadium with 83 yards rushing on six carries. Neither a sliding knee brace nor LSU defenders taking random cheap shots could stop Alabama’s offensive line from helping quarterback Tua Tagovailoa reached the end zone. It cleared a path for him in the third quarter and he took off for a career-long 44-yard run that resulted in a huge touchdown. 

To pair with its success on the ground, the Tide’s starting five linemen would also assist Tagovailoa to a pair of scoring tosses and 295 passing yards. He was sacked only once, bringing Alabama’s total to the SEC’s fewest sacks allowed (five). Saban mentioned after the 29-0 win over the Tigers on how he was pleased with the way his team controlled the pace of the game. 

“I think we played a complete game today,” Saban said post game. “We talked about controlling the line of scrimmage. I think we did that. We did have one turnover on a long pass, but I was really pleased with the explosive plays that we were able to make. We controlled the tempo of the game on offense. It took the crowd out of the game a little bit and the defense played well.” 

Seeing an offensive unit take it to LSU’s defensive front would ignite a fire in Alabama’s defense, as it rendered Joe Burrow and company to nothing. Following the matchup, the Southeastern Conference named Jonah Williams as its Offensive Lineman of the Week. 

He continues to grade out as one of college football’s elite offensive tackles and projects as a first round selection. With the big men leading the way, the Tide punched its ticket to the SEC Championship Game where it will face Georgia on Saturday, Dec. 1 in Atlanta.

Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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