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Can Alabama solve its offensive tackle situation in spring practice?

Alabama OL coach Chris Kapilovic on the field for 2024 spring practice with the Crimson Tide's offensive unit.
Kent Gidley - Alabama Athletics

Alabama head coach Kalen DeBoer had one issue after Thursday’s scrimmage for the Crimson Tide.

Doug Marrone and Eric Wolford were the final two offensive line coaches in the Nick Saban era.

Alabama’s offensive front struggled under both, giving up sacks of Bryce Young (2021, 2022) and Jalen Milroe (2023). The tackle position was a marquee problem, especially with edge rushers being able to consistently get to the quarterback.

JC Latham, a former Tide offensive tackle, projects as a first-round pick, but the program’s situation up front as professional scouts wondering if he can play left tackle.

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Chris Kapilovic has the responsibility of getting the front line to gel together.

The 55-year-old had success at North Carolina, Michigan State, and Colorado, but can he get this group in Tuscaloosa (Ala.) to perform well?

Kapilovic has the interior (guards, centers) of the unit in order. Tyler Booker and Jaeden Roberts have experience as offensive guards.

Both are leaders and monsters, when it comes to pounding opponents.

Alabama has an intriguing battle at center between Parker Brailsford and James Brockermeyer. Brailsford, a transfer from Washington, knows Coach DeBoer’s system, but Brockermeyer is very smart and has caught on to the offense. The Tide has talented players as tackles; however, Kapilovic is locating guys he can trust. Kadyn Proctor, a former five-star, has not re-entered the NCAA transfer portal to come back to Alabama from Iowa. Speculation says he will, but we shall see on Monday, April 15 if that comes to fruition. In the meantime, Kapilovic and the Tide have to work with what they have. Elijah Pritchett, Wilkin Formby, Miles McVay, Naquil Betrand, Casey Poe, and Joseph Ionata are the options at tackle. Pritchett has the most experience, but they all have potential.

DeBoer said Thursday that the defensive line was able to get pressure in the scrimmage.

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Alabama has to get better with its pass protection.

“It is the one area we could have been better,” DeBoer said about Alabama’s pass protection. “I looked at it, defensively, and I saw we had a strong pass rush. Offensively, we had a great run game. I can’t say it is a weakness at this point, but it is something we need to work on.”

Alabama allowed 44 sacks of Jalen Milroe in 2023, including six (tied season high) against Michigan in a 20-27 overtime loss in the Rose Bowl Game for the College Football Playoff Semifinal.

The group did not do a good job of handing off protection schemes and neutralizing pass rushers. 

This area has to be fixed in order for Alabama to have a successful season in the fall.

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

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Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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