Alabama Football News

Alabama’s offensive line is the best in college football, and it’s not even close

Landon Dickerson ready to snap the ball versus Auburn
Photo by Kent Gidley of Alabama Athletics/SEC Media Portal

No defense in college football wants to deal with the offensive explosion at Alabama.

In his second year as a play caller, Steve Sarkisian has the Crimson Tide boasting a top-10 group nationally for scoring offense (48.5 ppg, No. 3) and total offense (535.6 ypg, No. 6). Under his leadership, Alabama has its highest red zone efficiency of the Nick Saban era (38-for-42, 90.5 percent) and a strong conversion rate on third down (51-for-87, 58.6 percent). While the skill position players gain the most attention, the Tide’s offensive line is the best unit in the sport and it is not even close.

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Kyle Flood, Alabama’s offensive line coach, has the best five guys on the field and they are dominating opponents.

Behind this group, the Tide has totaled at least 40 points in seven straight games. When it comes to its balance in the run game and passing attack, the front line has not allowed opposing defenses to gain consistent penetration against Alabama.

The combination of Alex Leatherwood, Deonte Brown, Landon Dickerson, Emil Ekiyor and Evan Neal have allowed just eight sacks of Mac Jones.

As a first-year starting quarterback, the junior could not have asked for a better set of players in the trenches.

Because of the chemistry up front, Jones has been able to turn in a season that’s positioned him as the leader in the Heisman Trophy race.

He’s completed 76.2 percent of his passes for 2,728 yards with 23 touchdowns to three interceptions. The protection from the line allowed Jones to have five 300-yard performances, including three 400-yard passing games. He has also had seven games where he’s posted a total quarterback rating of at least 95.

RELATED: Alabama Twitter account throws jab at Bo Nix, Auburn

For Najee Harris, running behind this offensive line has been exceptional. He stands with three 100-yard rushing games and seven matchups totaling 100 yards from scrimmage. Harris leads the nation for rushing touchdowns (17) and is 10th in yards (893) on 148 carries. He averages six yards per rush and 111.6 yards per game.

To reflect back on Jones, the time he’s given to survey his options at wide receiver has propelled DeVonta Smith to a monster year. The senior has five 100-yard outings — including one 200-yard game versus Mississippi State. He is third in the NCAA for yards (1,074) and receptions (72), while carrying an NCAA-best 12 touchdowns.

Smith is one of four receivers in Alabama history to have multiple 1,000-yard seasons.

It does not get the credit it deserves; however, Alabama’s offensive line is the reason why opponents are having issues.

Regardless of having talent on defense, a lack of pressure to Jones and not limiting the production of Harris allows for other players to be impactful as well. Due to the success of the line, John Metchie, Jahleel Billingsley, Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams have been able to produce.

People talked a lot on the Tide’s 2012 and 2013 offensive units, and for good reasons, but its current lineup is just as dynamic.

Alabama is prepared to take home the Joe Moore Award, because of the continuity and physical play of this line.

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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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