Alabama offense tackles struggles in spring football game

Is Kendall Randolph an answer? Is JC Latham another?

A cursory look at the offensive tackles that worked with Alabama’s first-team offense on Saturday’s annual one day scrimmage would suggest not.

A deeper dive, however, reveals all sorts of reasons why it’s far too soon for Alabama fans to press any panic buttons over what has been Alabama’s most crucial competition in the game. spring. The Crimson Tide’s 15 Spring Practices packed up at Bryant-Denny Stadium, and it doesn’t take a football savant to know that protecting the pocket edges of a Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback is paramount, especially in an age of college football that demands more than ever efficiency in the passing game.

If Alabama’s 2022 championship hopes are to stand, Bryce Young must also stand.

It’s an easy calculation.

The hardest calculations – figuring out who will be the most important tackle points man in the fall and how they will fare while doing so – weren’t settled or resolved on Saturday. Randolph and Latham played well enough in the spring to rival the first team in scrums, including at Saturday’s public reveal, with Randolph on the left side and Latham on the right. That’s about the only part of the equation that’s clear, with more confirmation that the Crimson Tide pass rush could be downright fierce in the fall.

The first-team defense was all over Young in a scrum where the touch of a passer’s hand was all it took for a sack and a whistle. The white team’s pass rush, mostly with edge pressure, landed 10 of those touch sacks against the first team’s attack. On one particular second-quarter practice, star linebacker Will Anderson Jr. landed two sacks on a three-game streak with a quick move around Randolph, followed by a power move.

From a pass protection standpoint, it was a very tough day for tackles. At the same time, it’s foolish to draw much of the conclusion about Alabama’s strength at this position in mid-April.

Linebacker Dallas Turner (15) rushes the passer during the A-Day game at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Drop the best of Alabama’s rushers – Anderson, Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell – into any spring scrum in America and you’ll see struggling tackles. Randolph and Latham, of course, regularly face a test in practice that is difficult at the final exam level. UA coach Nick Saban mentioned the big difference the defensive front-seven experience made for the White side, who won 25-7 and featured the first-team defence.

Saban also noted the lack of offensive nuance in a scrimmage frame, which made things even more difficult on pass protection from the line.

“When you play in a game like this you limit what you do on offense. You really have no way to chip (block) the edges, you have no way to help tackles because the limited number of things you do offensively,” Saban said. “If we have to help guys, we can help guys in pass protection. But that was not the goal of the game today. It was to assess what the guys can do.”

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Alabama head coach Nick Saban yells at defensive players during the A-Day game at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

When fall camp rolls around, inside linemen Emil Ekiyor and Darrian Dalcourt appear to be in good health, and their presence alone could give UA’s coaching staff a chance to get a deeper look into the situation. versatility of AU guards at tackle. Add to that Tyler Steen, the inbound transfer from Vanderbilt, and there’s plenty more to say at the tackle position before the Crimson Tide take the field for their season opener against Utah State on September 3.

If Randolph can hold this competition on the left side, he could cap off his Alabama career with a standout finish. Approaching his sixth year at Alabama, he did not see the field until his third season; and when he did, he split the time between tackle and tight end. It’s quite different from the typical path for high-end tackle rookies — from Jonah Williams to Alex Leatherwood to Evan Neal — who’s held the left tackle position since the start of Randolph’s career.

Latham, as a former five-star recruit, takes the hardest path to a starting role, but his lack of playing experience is something that can only be overcome with time.

Alabama may well face offensive tackle issues this fall.

But day A was not judgment day.

Contact Chase Goodbread @cgoodbread@gannett.com. Follow @chasegoodbread on Twitter.