Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Sorting out Alabama's offensive line
By Chris Low
One of the top priorities for Alabama when fall camp opens Friday is to settle on its best combination in the offensive line.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said All-SEC performer Barrett Jones would work at both left tackle and right guard to begin camp.
"We’ll work him at both positions until we can determine who’s the best fifth player in the offensive line," Saban said.
In other words, if prized true freshman Cyrus Kouandjio demonstrates that he can get the job done at left tackle, Jones will stay at guard. The same goes for senior Alfred McCullough, who played some left tackle in the spring. McCullough, though, is probably best suited to play guard.
In an ideal world, the Crimson Tide would like to keep Jones inside. That way, they keep their interior intact with senior William Vlachos at center and junior Chance Warmack at left guard. Sophomore D.J. Fluker returns at right tackle, and he's probably going to stay on the right side.
Sophomore guard Anthony Steen is in that mix, too. If he plays well during preseason camp and gives the coaches confidence that he can hold up there in the middle, they might be more inclined to leave Jones at left tackle.
The good news for the Crimson Tide is that the 6-foot-5, 311-pound Jones is talented enough, versatile enough and smart enough that he's going to be a force wherever they put him in that offensive line. He's started in 25 games at right guard his first two seasons and earned third-team All-America honors a year ago as a sophomore.