Alabama vs. Virginia Tech: O-Line Still a Concern for Crimson Tide Despite Win

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIAugust 31, 2013

Aug 31, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies defensive tackle Nigel Williams (95) sacks Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron (10) in the third quarter of the 2013 Chick-fil-a Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Alabama Crimson Tide were able to start off their national championship run on a high note, but the offensive line was certainly a concern after the win against the Virginia Tech Hokies.

The final score of the game was 35-10 with Alabama controlling for the majority of the game. However, Virginia Tech kept making plays and just kept itself on the edge without being completely blownout. Alabama was helped out by two special teams touchdowns from Christion Jones and a defensive touchdown by Vinnie Sunseri.

Despite all the great play from the defense and special teams, the offense for the Crimson Tide did not look good whatsoever. AJ McCarron went just 10-of-24 with 110 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception.  

The team as a whole just had 96 yards rushing on 38 attempts, which is only 2.5 yards per carry. T.J. Yeldon ran for 75 yards on 17 carries, but if you take out the 27-yard run, he averaged just 3.0 yards per attempt.

What does that all add up to? A struggling offensive line.

There was certainly a lot of change on the offensive line after winning another national championship. D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack went in the first round of the NFL draft, while star lineman Barrett Jones went in the fourth.

The loss of Jones may have been the biggest blow to the team. He played all over the line during his career, and he was the one who did such a great job recognizing the defense and making adjustments at the line.

Now, with those three gone, Alabama has had to make adjustments. It was playing a defense that was considered average last season, yet it struggled to get things going.  

The Crimson Tide averaged 445.5 yards per game of total offense in 2012; they finished with just 206 against the Hokies. This is with McCarron and Yeldon still on offense, but that lack of an elite offensive line is seriously hurting the offense.

The pressure was there all day for McCarron, and he was sacked multiple times. The offensive tackles seemed to be getting beat way too often, and the defensive ends and linebackers for Virginia Tech were able to get to McCarron far too much for Nick Saban to feel confident heading into the rest of the season.

Things won't get any easier for Alabama, either. It will be facing No. 7 Texas A&M in a game that has been on Saban's mind since the day they lost to the Aggies last season.  

If Alabama wants to win it all for the third straight year, the offensive line is going to need to improve—and fast.