Monday, March 15, 2010
Alabama looking to fill holes up front
By ESPN.com staff
Just like a year ago, Alabama sophomore offensive guard Barrett Jones isn’t writing anything in stone.
He expects the Crimson Tide to do some experimenting in the offensive line, which could mean some shuffling. The idea is to get the best five linemen on the field.
And with All-America left guard Mike Johnson and right tackle Drew Davis both gone, Alabama is looking to fill a couple of spots.
The way the offensive line came together last season and jelled was one of the most important components in Alabama’s national championship run.
Jones, a freshman All-American last season, was back at his right guard spot last Friday when Alabama opened spring practice.
“I’ll play wherever they need me to play, and that’s the attitude of this whole team,” said Jones, who pointed out that the chemistry and discipline last season in the offensive line was about as good as it gets.
“We weren’t as talented as we were two years ago, but made so many fewer mental errors. We knew what we needed to do on every play.”
James Carpenter should be even better next season at left tackle. He was solid a year ago after coming over from junior college. William Vlachos returns at center, although he’s recovering from foot surgery this spring.
Johnson’s left guard spot is wide open, and there’s a chance the Tide could move some people around. At right tackle, Alfred McCullough, D.J. Fluker and Tyler Love are all working there.
One of the best things the Tide have going for them (again) is veteran offensive line coach Joe Pendry, who truly is one of the best in the business.
“Coach Pendry is great. It’s amazing the knowledge he has,” Jones said. “He always says to cover them up and make the defender make arm tackles, which really works well when you have the two amazing backs we did last season (Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson). They run through arm tackles.”