In the second installment of my spring practice preview series for the 2013 edition of the Alabama Crimson Tide, I will break down a unit that may be the team’s biggest question mark this season: the offensive line.
Alabama must find new starters at three positions that were manned by All-Americans a year ago at a segment that is perhaps Nick Saban’s biggest concern when the pads come on next month.
Additionally, the line will have a new leader in charge of the position—with Saban hiring former Florida International head coach Mario Cristobal as the Tide’s new offensive line coach earlier this week (h/t, rolltide.com).
Even though it will be tough to replace stars like Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker, Cristobal will rely on left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and right guard Anthony Steen as a pair of veteran anchors for the unit to build around.
Despite the turnover in the trenches, Alabama has a talented group of understudies that are ready for their turn in the spotlight.
Center Ryan Kelly, guards Arie Kouandjio and Chad Lindsay plus tackles Kellen Williams and Austin Shepherd are players that have been in the program for at least two years and have gained valuable experience as backups.
Add mid-term JUCO enrollee Leon Brown to the mix and it becomes clear that there will be healthy competition for the trio of vacancies.
Which players have a leg up on those positions entering the spring, and which spot will produce the most fiercely contested battle?
Get inside of this spring practice primer on the Tide’s offensive line that gives Tide fans everything they need to know about the group before they hit the field next month.