With Bozeman back, Alabama's OL gears up for 'challenge' against Texas A&M

Tony Tsoukalas, Alabama team writer
Tide Sports

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — After a mild scare, Alabama’s offensive line appears to be at full strength heading into this week’s game against Texas A&M.

Starting center Bradley Bozeman was a full participant at practice Wednesday after being limited on Monday and Tuesday. The redshirt senior was dressed out for all three practices but was not seen going through drills during the media viewing period until Wednesday. He showed no limitations while working with the first-team unit and was not named in the injury report provided by head coach Nick Saban during his news conference later in the day.

Bozeman started all 15 games for Alabama last year as well as the Tide’s first five games this season. He was a member of the preseason Outland Trophy and Remington Trophy watch lists. This season, he has helped the Tide rush for 300 yards or more three times.

With Bozeman anchoring the offensive line, Alabama’s offense leads the SEC in total offense (508.6 yards per game), rushing (315.6 ypg) and scoring 46.2 points per game. Alabama (5-0, 2-0 in the SEC) has outscored opponents 125-3 in conference play. The Tide’s 59-0 over Vanderbilt followed by its 66-3 victory over Ole Miss marks the first time since 1991 that Alabama has scored 50 or more points in consecutive games.

“I think our offensive line has progressed very nicely throughout the season,” Saban said during the SEC Coaches Teleconference earlier Wednesday. “We’ve improved, I think, each and every week, and hopefully we’ll continue to do that."

The Tide will travel to Texas A&M (4-1, 2-0) on Saturday at 6:15 CT. The Aggies lead the SEC with 20 sacks and are led by junior defensive lineman Landis Durham who is tied for No. 4 in the nation with 5.5 sacks this season.

“I think the challenge that they’ll face this week is probably the biggest they’ve had since the first game of the season against Florida State’s front,” Saban said. “A&M’s got some talented guys up front. They do a lot of things scheme-wise, in terms of stemming and moving, a lot of blitzes, a lot of things to prepare for.”

The Aggies tallied a season-high seven sacks in last week’s 24-17 win over South Carolina. They tallied six the week before in a 50-43 victory over Arkansas.

“They pressure a lot. In other words, they are going to rush five and six guys a lot,” Saban said. “So they make some of those athletic guys, they put them in a position where you have to single block those guys and you can't help much on them. I think it's a combination of they have a really good scheme and they have really good players who can pass rush and finish on the quarterback.

“They also create a lot of negative plays where they create a down and distance where it's in their favor to do that on third down. This is a challenge to be able to block their pressures. I think if we're going to make any plays down the field and be a good third down team, it'll start with that."

Alabama’s offensive line is tied for No. 10 nationally allowing just four sacks this season. The Tide has given up just one sack over its past three games. The offense has thrived with under that protection, producing back-to-back 600-yard games against Vanderbilt and Ole Miss.

Replicating that success this week might be more of a challenge.

“They’ll need all the knowledge and experience and physical play that they can muster to have success against this bunch,” Saban said. “I think this will be a really good test for them.”

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