Alabama Football: Oklahoma O-Line success critical against Tide


Alabama football squares off against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on December 29. The Sooners prolific offense has smashed offensive records along the way. One overlooked position group is vital to their monumental success.

The pure motivation for Alabama football to outwork yesterday is right in front of them. Start with Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray hoisting the illustrious, bronze Heisman Trophy high above his head Saturday night. That is no minor, internal motivation.

The Crimson Tide suffered losses in the previous three contests against the Sooners, including a 2014 Sugar Bowl shellacking at the hands of an unassuming Trevor Knight and pompous egomaniac Bob Stoops.

Lastly, Alabama’s eighteenth national title, Nick Saban’s seventh title, and back to back College Football Playoff champions are all within the Tide’s imminent grasp. Before planning another parade in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide needs a win against the defending Big 12 champion.

Boomer Sooner Flourishes in Big 12

The mere mention of a Big 12 team to an outsider and certain buzzwords quickly zoom into mind: tranquil defenses and intricate offensive attacks. The University of Oklahoma is the Big 12’s version of a pristine, V-12 powered Lamborghini Aventador in a race amongst badly beat up Hyundai Sonatas.

Second-year head coach Lincoln Riley appears on the verge of becoming an offensive genius similar to savant Bill Walsh. The flash of the offense is focused on Murray but without the O-Line Murray cannot make it happen.

Heisman quarterback Kyler Murray’s dual-threat capability is reminiscent of last year’s winner Baker Mayfield. His gaudy stats (4,945 total yards, 51 touchdowns, and 96 QBR) belong on the rookie mode in Madden 18. The diminutive five-foot-ten quarterback’s video game shiftiness and deadly passing accuracy allowed Oklahoma to thrive.

During a joint press conference in Atlanta, Saban spoke about the explosiveness of the Sooners’ offense,

"They’ve got some really explosive players. The quarterback’s an explosive player. They can run the ball. They have great balance. So, I don’t know if there’s one particular thing other than I think their players know how to win and they’ve won a lot of close games and they’ve come from behind in games. This is a team that is as explosive as any that I’ve ever seen, and it’s designed that way. And I think it’s very difficult to stop a team like that."

Instrumental in the accomplishment of all the wizardry is the Sooners offensive line. Led by co-offensive coordinator Bill Bedenbaugh, Oklahoma’s offensive line is regarded as one of the best in the business. The line is a semifinalist for the Joe Moore Award alongside Alabama and Georgia.

Bobby Evans (left tackle), Ben Powers (left guard), Creed Humphrey (center), Dru Samia (right guard) and Cody Ford (right tackle) are all north of 300 pounds. Named to the Walter Camp All American team and All-Big 12, senior Powers is the driving force behind the balanced offensive juggernaut. He has it all: strength, quickness, and power.

SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic and ESPN announcer Todd Blackledge praised the play of this powerful offensive line.

Frightening offensive Unit under Lincoln Riley

Broadly speaking regarding greatness, Oklahoma led the nation with 11.6 yards per pass attempt.  The Sooners are on pace to break the single-season FBS record for yards per play with 8.7. To place it in perspective, Alabama football is second with 7.9, followed by Clemson at 7.4. Oklahoma ranks second nationally in the FBS with 6.7 yards per rush. Since Penn State in 1994, no team has finished in the top two nationally in both categories in the same year. Lastly, Riley’s team is the only team in the country to score 40 touchdowns rushing (40) and passing (41).

Bedenbaugh’s unit allowed only 1.23 sacks per game, second in the Big 12. The numbers are impressive considering the loss of NFL number one draft pick Baker Mayfield, consensus first-team All American Orlando Brown, Jr. and electrifying running back Rodney Anderson.

Create Disruption with Defensive Line

Alabama’s ability to disrupt Murray’s inner clock inside the pocket is imperative. Led by Outland Trophy winner, Quinnen Williams, the Crimson Tide defense allowed only 14 points per game, good for fourth in the country. Alabama enters the contest with 42 sacks, so the offensive line will have its work cut out for them. The Sooners will look to get the ball out of Murray’s hands as quickly as possible to avoid the rush. Above all, Saban is a master at creating defensive game plans with three weeks to prepare. Alabama football creating pressure with only the front four allows more players in coverage plus a covert spy for Murray.

Riley and company have not faced a defensive unit as talented and troublesome as Alabama. Can the offensive line hold up against the diabolical pressure brought on by Williams, Isaiah Buggs and Raekwon Davis?

Time will tell in 19 days.

Next. Tide Players Earn National Awards. dark

Co-Defensive coordinators Tosh Lupoi and Pete Golding are not intimidated by Oklahoma. In a nutshell, every day in practice Alabama football faces the number two offense in the country led by Heisman runner-up Tua Tagovailoa.