Monday, September 28, 2015

Bama week - the offensive line

Let's start the week's analysis where the game will be won - in the trenches. Georgia's offensive line is a large reason why the Dawgs are undefeated coming into the game Saturday night. There's little question that since halftime in Nashville Schottenheimer's offense has been clicking on all cylinders and the line has kept Lambert's jersey pretty clean. Of course, the holes for Chubb and Michel have been there too.

A big reason the offense is averaging 45 points a game is because it has stayed inside of the chains. However, I would expect the Tide to really challenge Schotty's passing attack by both daring Georgia into passing (and thus keeping the ball out of Chubb and Michel's hands) and pressing the receivers on the outside more than we've seen thus far.

Vanderbilt is probably going to end up being one of the better defenses we see this season. But even they let our receivers ease into their routes without much disturbance. Bama will press and disrupt the timing of Lambert and his receivers. They'll do this as an attempt to get Lambert to check into a run, or pat the ball too many times when he drops back.

So, the offensive line will have its hands full. Saban will want to challenge Sale's unit at the point of attack. For instance, Schottenheimer has made a living thus far by pulling guards in the running game and taking advantage of matchups in mostly short and intermediate routes in the passing game. The common denominator in both has been an offensive line that could give the running backs holes to get through and the quarterback enough time to release the ball.

What should we expect? Well, for one we haven't seen a talented front seven like this. Alabama's linebackers are going to be better prepared to keep Chubb and Michel east-west and on passing downs they'll stunt and stretch the offensive line's protection to try and bait Lambert into a bad throw.

Bama is loaded with All-SEC talent - Reggie Ragland and Reuben Foster at linebacker and DJ Pettway, Dalvin Tomlinson, A'Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed on the defensive line. But keep your eye on #93 Jonathan Allen. He's a junior from Leesburg VA that the Tide has mostly used in nickel packages on passing downs. But he bulked up this past off season with 20 pounds of muscle in hopes of earning more playing time on 1st and 2nd downs. And so far he's been a force - seven tackles, three sacks and two QB hurries.

Allen was banged up some against ULM on Saturday, but Saban said he's expected to play. And if he does he has the size and speed to be a game changer on Saturday night.