Alabama football starting offensive line makes strides in scrimmage

Chase Goodbread
The Tuscaloosa News

The Alabama starting offensive line made strides Saturday as the Crimson Tide went through the first scrimmage of preseason practice, coach Nick Saban said.

That was the good news from a scrimmage that was closed to fans and media. The bad news: Saban said penalties and mental errors were far too frequent, not uncommon for early-camp scrimmage work. Nevertheless, improvement up front on the offensive line will be critical to keeping pressure off of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young. 

Saban did not reveal which five linemen are currently making up the starting front.

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"It's hard to evaluate, but I thought the first offensive line was improved. I thought the second offensive line struggled, struggled in protection, struggled to run the ball," Saban said. "But I was encouraged by the running backs and some of the plays they were able to make, some of the runs they were able to run. Overall, I thought the first line made some improvement. I thought the second line struggled a little bit at times. I think every unit had its ups and downs."

The Crimson Tide coaching staff must identify two new starting offensive tackles in camp. Among the candidates are J.C. Latham and Kendall Randolph, who exited spring practice working with the first unit, and transfer Tyler Steen, who did not compete in the spring but has extensive starting experience from his years at Vanderbilt.

UA returns a more veteran group on the interior of the offensive line, but lost an elite left tackle in Evan Neal, an NFL first-round draft pick.

Alabama will scrimmage again next Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Reach Chase Goodbread at cgoodbread@gannett.com. Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread