|TideSports College Football Preview|
Position coach: Brent Key (second season)
Returning starters: Bradley Bozeman, Jonah Williams, Ross Pierschbacher
Starters lost: Cam Robinson, Korren Kirven
Right guard appears to be a battle between redshirt freshman Deonte Brown and junior Lester Cotton, a Tuscaloosa product from Central High. Both are big, powerful road graders. Cotton’s technique kept him from being more consistent last year, and Brown’s conditioning could be an issue. Redshirt sophomore Matt Womack and freshman Jedrick Wills are fighting for the starting job at right tackle. J.C. Hassenauer provides quality depth at center, and junior Dallas Warmack saw some playing time with the backups at guard last season.
Newcomer to watch
Alabama signed three offensive tackles, a guard and a center in this class. The most excitement may be for Alex Leatherwood, the nation’s No. 4 player. He arrived on campus during preparation for last season’s national championship game and could make his way into the two-deep.
You need to know
Bozeman and Pierschbacher are back at center and left guard, respectively. Williams is making the move from right tackle, where he acclimated himself well as a true freshman, to left tackle.
There’s no shortage of options or talent on the offensive line, but there’s less certainty about how it all fits together. Alabama started four different players at right guard last year and would like to find more continuity there this season. The offensive line looks well-stocked for the future, but there’s no extra time to break in the new starters. Florida State has two stout defensive tackles and enough pass rushers to test the group in the very first game.
Alabama’s offense averaged 5.75 yards per carry last year, its second-best average in the Nick Saban era. But Alabama actually performed better against some of its tougher competition. The Crimson Tide averaged over six yards per carry in conference games, and averaged 6.5 yards per carry in the national championship game against Clemson.
“Like Coach Saban always says, we’ll play the five best. You might not always like it but it’s always fair.”
— Jonah Williams