Throughout spring and fall practice, Saban questioned the offensive line. He wondered about its ability to get enough push in the run game. He worried about whether they would be able to protect quarterback AJ McCarron. The season opener versus Virginia Tech created more questions about the unit.
But with Alabama’s 49-42 victory over Texas A&M, Saban could put those worries to bed, at least temporarily.
“They controlled the line scrimmage to me, run and pass,” Saban said. “We didn’t get a lot of pressure in the pocket. We were able to run the ball effectively pretty consistently. We didn’t have a lot of negative plays. I think the offensive line did a fantastic job.”
In the run game, the line created holes for 234 yards and two touchdowns. The Crimson Tide pounded away at the Aggies’ front seven and consistently got the next level. The Tide used a lot of double tight end sets against the Aggies for both inside and outside runs.
Through the air, McCarron had time to throw for 334 yards and four touchdowns.
In all, Alabama’s offense gained 568 yards. A huge improvement from the 206 total yards the Tide gained against the Hokies two weeks ago.
“We got the ball rolling at the beginning,” center Ryan Kelly said. “I give credit to (strength and conditioning) coach (Scott) Cochran. We were fine conditioning wise. It was obviously pretty hot out there. … We just kept pushing on through and eventually found holes. We did what we needed to do.”
McCarron said the line was practicing with a chip on its shoulder during the bye week and in preparation week for the Aggies.
“Overall good, an unbelievable job by the O-line,” McCarron said. “That’s what I told y’all, in our off week I said it was the best practices we’ve had as a team. Three new linemen in there, first game it’s not going to be perfect. You’ve got to have time to get the kinks out. They did a great job adjusting all day long, unbelievable job blocking.”
There are still a few mistakes that will need to be corrected, mainly penalties. The Tide often committed false start penalties. But for much of the game, Alabama’s offensive line was in complete control.
“We had a good plan,” Saban said. “The players did a fantastic job of executing the plan. The coaches did a fantastic job of getting the plan implemented to the players so we had an opportunity to go out and execute.”