Center Landon Dickerson finds Alabama football's early offensive line play 'disappointing'
All eyes are on Lane Kiffin, but when his Ole Miss Rebels face Alabama on Saturday, the Crimson Tide will be bringing the more statistically impressive offense.
The Crimson Tide ranks third in the nation in yards per play and points per game, the only one of the top three to score all of its points on Power 5 competition.
That doesn’t mean all is well.
Alabama enters its game against Ole Miss with a rushing attack that center Landon Dickerson called, “disappointing.” UA ranks tied for 55th of the 74 FBS teams in yards per carry (3.44).
“As an offensive lineman, the run game is kind of what we pride ourselves on, and the past two games have honestly been disappointing,” Dickerson said. “I think the biggest takeaways for us are we’re close on a lot of things. A lot of details and a lot of cleanup need to happen before we can really have a great run game, and that’s something that we just have to improve on every day in practice.”
UA’s offensive line has not been dominated, necessarily. It has allowed just nine of 64 rushing attempts to be stopped for a loss. But it has yet to do the dominating.
Of Alabama’s 64 rushing attempts, only eight have gone for 10 or more yards and none has gone for 20 or more yards. In busting runs for 10 or more yards 12.5% of the time, it ranks tied for 51st it is one of just seven teams that has yet to produce a 20-yard run.
Alabama has continuity on its offensive line. The lone new piece on the line is right guard Emil Ekiyor Jr., with tackle Alex Leatherwood, guard Deonte Brown, Dickerson and tackle Evan Neal all returning around him.
“I think Emil’s done a great job of being consistent when it comes to practice and in games,” Dickerson said. “He’s a smart guy. He’s a physical guy. He’s a tough guy. I think that is kind of what separated him as we got farther along into camp and closer to the season. He’s been a great guy to play beside. He communicates well. He gets his job done, and that’s about all I can ask from the guy playing beside me.”
UA coach Nick Saban thinks opposing defenses, aware of the talent the Tide has on its offensive line, have brought more shifts, stunts and slants than the staff could have expected.
Saban thinks the run game can improve on coaching more than player performance.
“I'm not at all disappointed in the way the offensive line has played,” Saban said. “I think we need to do a better job as a staff to make sure we're preparing them for what they're going to see. And then they can respond better to it in the game.”
Dickerson is not accepting of that explanation.
“You can't let other people control what you're going to do,” he said. “It doesn't matter what opponent we play. It shouldn't matter what kind of defense they run, what scheme they run. We should be able to accomplish what we want to accomplish.”
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson