Alabama Football: Push or protect more important for right tackle

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Coming out of spring, Alabama Football remains unsettled on two new starting offensive linemen. Chris Owens is probably settled in at the third opening from last season. A guard slot and the right tackle slot are not only up for grabs, the are several competitors.

Another reason the offensive line remains unsettled was the spring absence of Emil Ekiyor. Without Ekiyor at one of the guard spots, building communication and cohesion was more difficult.

Left tackle is cemented with one of the SEC’s best, Evan Neal. Neal’s opposite at right tackle may be frequently tested by opponents. Neal is good enough to neutralize strong edge rushers, so opposing defensive coordinators may line up their best against the Crimson Tide’s right tackle.

Tackles must have more than protection skills. Like the interior linemen, the tackles must push opponents off the line of scrimmage. In traditional Nick Saban terms that push is known as physically dominating the man in front of you. Last season’s Alabama Football offensive line, especially when Landon Dickerson was healthy, was good at getting that ‘push’.

Today’s explosive offenses are so quarterback-oriented, ‘protect’ is as much or more important than getting a ‘push’. Nick Saban will demand his next starting right tackle be able to do both. Roster circumstances might drive protecting the quarterback be the top priority.

Alabama Football Priority is Protecting Bryce Young

Whichever quarterback becomes QB2 behind Byrce Young, the dropoff will be considerable. Without a healthy Bryce Young, the Alabama Crimson Tide might not be able to contend for a Championship.

Increasing the risk of injury to Young is his body build. He may prove to be durable but he does not have the typical type of body able to withstand lots of pounding. He does have quick feet and he uses them first to buy time to throw, rather than quickly choosing to run when a play develops slowly.

Nick Saban and Doug Marrone are a long way from choosing the two-deep at right tackle. Based on years of experience, Kendall Randolph has the best chance to earn a fall starting role. Going into spring, many Alabama football fans were confident one of the freshmen, either Tommy Brockermeyer or J.C. Latham would take over right tackle. Nick Saban spoke positively about them during the spring. But Brockermeyer spent the spring as the backup to Neal at left tackle. Latham was with the twos at right tackle and the young man has tremendous potential. But Latham did not play offensive tackle throughout high school and he is still learning the nuances of the position.

Joining Randolph and Latham to compete for right tackle are Javion Cohen, Damieon George Jr. and possibly Pierce Quick, Amari Kight and Tommy Brown, though the last three appear to be slated at guard. There is a good chance the guy who can best ‘protect’ Bryce Young gets the nod.

dark. Next. Biggest need for Tide coming out of spring

The good news for Alabama Football is it has recruited a deep bench of highly-rated offensive lineman. With so much young talent, the September starter may not be the November starter.