Alabama Football: Tide offensive and defensive lines juggle and mature

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Alabama football has a three-week period to adjust, experiment and settle in on a starting offensive line and a solid defensive line rotation.

No specific slight intended to Tennessee and Arkansas but Alabama football has two practice games in the next two weeks. Unpredictable upsets happen in college football every season but there will not be one during the next two Tuscaloosa Saturdays.

After those two games, the 8-0 Crimson Tide will have a bye week before LSU. There will be no experimenting going on during the LSU game week. Some portion of the bye week might also be dedicated to LSU. But, most of the next three weeks will be about making Alabama football a better team.

There will be player experiments, tested both by practice performance and game action. On Monday, Nick Saban said,

"On defense … (we) need to help young players develop and play with more consistency."

One experiment on defense is redshirt sophomore inside linebacker, Markail Benton. Benton had been slowed by a hamstring injury, but he is being tested to see if he can deliver in passing situations. Benton has the physical tools to keep step with receivers. Saban said,

"it will be helpful to our team that we have more guys on defense that can play winning football. He’s certainly a guy who has a capability to do that."

One guy who has confidence in Benton is Dylan Moses. Moses devoted extra time over the summer to help Markail reach what Moses believes is great potential.

The other experiment on defense is Christian Barmore. In limited playing time this season, Barmore has shown explosiveness in pressuring quarterbacks. Speaking about Barmore, Nick said,

"We’ll try to continue to use some of that inside pass rush that he gives us to help us in the future."

The insider rap on Barmore has been his inability to execute his assignments. Many Alabama football fans don’t care if he is inconsistent in gap control, as long as he gets to a QB.

True freshmen Byron Young and Justin Eboigbe are not experiments. Along with Phidarian Mathis, Young and Eboigbe are part of the regular defensive line rotation. Both have started games and currently Byron Young is the first team replacement for the injured LaBryan Ray.

As far as the offensive line, it could be the experiments are over. Chris Owens returned to action in Monday’s practice. He may not be able to unseat Landon Dickerson at center. Commenting on the interior of the offensive line, Saban was complimentary of last Saturday’s combination with Dickerson at center and Deonte Brown at right guard.

Check out the complete video, compliments of, of Saban’s Monday comments.

Next. Saban's all-time Top Running Backs. dark

Even though it is a time for experimentation, it is also the week of the third Saturday in October. Despite the current win streak, hating Tennessee is intact for those Tide fans old enough to remember when the Vols were a real threat.