D.J. Fluker, Barrett Jones, and Chance Warmack have moved on to the NFL, and new ‘Bama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal will now accept the responsibility of solidifying a new starting front, while grooming the newcomers and veteran reserves.
In a college football landscape where the slightest misstep is considered a sign of failure, the 2013 edition of the Alabama offensive line will have something to prove.
The Alabama offensive line at work. pic.twitter.com/fYhjU9ueiMWhile Alabama returns one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the nation, a stable of highly touted running backs, and a crop of decorated wide receivers, the “functionality” of everything offensively will be predicated on the production of the offensive line.
— Cliff Kirkpatrick (@COKirkpatrick) August 2, 2013
An inconsistent offensive front could easily turn a potentially potent Tide offense into an ill-performing jalopy.
Cyrus Kouandjio - Left Tackle (returning starter)
Arie Kouandjio - Left Guard
Ryan Kelly - Center
Anthony Steen - Right Guard (returning starter)
Austin Shepherd - Right Tackle
While it is still too early to “cement” the starting offensive line for 2013, the key figures are in place. Since nothing is fool-proof, one can only make a projection, based on experience in the program and repetitions, that someone like Austin Shepherd, for example, will be ready to fill a void.
In respect to the reserves, expect junior college transfer Leon Brown to have a significant role. Brown, along with the likes of Brandon Greene, Brandon Hill, Chad Lindsay, Alphonse Taylor, and Kellen Williams will comprise the bulk of what should be a very talented second unit.
The 2013 edition of the Crimson Tide offensive front won’t be the best in the nation, but they do have a chance to be one of the best in the SEC. Chemistry is a vital factor, yet chemistry can't be formed in a single practice, or even a single game. The full potential of this group could very well remain a mystery until late October or early November.
As noted above, Alabama has the tools when it comes to the skill positions on offense, but those skills are only as fruitful as the production and protection of the offensive front.
Unit rating: 7.5/10