Alabama, a name synonymous with powerhouse offensive linemen, is now facing a challenge like never before. The question we’re left pondering is this: what has happened to the once-mighty wall of crimson, the very foundation of Alabama football’s success?

Join me as we unravel the perplexing story of an offensive line that’s encountered more than its fair share of struggles in recent seasons. It’s time to dissect the penalties, the fumbled snaps, the frustrating sacks, and delve deep into the heart of the matter. Alabama’s offensive line, what’s really going on?

In the off-season, JC Latham, the star offensive lineman, boldly declared that they’d bring back that legendary “make their asses quit” mentality. Given their success last season and the experience they had returning, it sure seemed like it was going to happen. Oh boy, has reality hit hard! In just six games, Alabama’s O-line has already given up a whopping 26 sacks, surpassing last year’s 22. To make matters worse, they’re racking up pre-snap penalties and botched snaps again. Wait, there’s more! The once-promising running back crew is barely managing 3.7 yards per carry this season. Tide fans, it’s been a bumpy ride so far.

Kadyn Proctor vs Texas A&M 2023 • Courtesy of 247 Sports

What’s Wrong With the Offensive Line?

Now, folks, the burning question on everyone’s minds: What’s ailing that Alabama offensive line? Rather than offering up my own take, I turned to a former Crimson Tide great in the form of 1999 SEC Champion, Griff Redmill. Griff’s got some strong opinions, and he’s pointing the finger squarely at freshman left tackle Kadyn Proctor.

The biggest problem they’ve got is the freshman LT (Proctor) majorly struggles with speed edge and passing off stunts against speed…and everybody on earth knows it. So teams will just load up and try to exploit that deficiency until he fixes it. Teams can take that one weak point and make life a living hell for the offense.

Proctor’s learning curve has been steep. He’s been caught in the headlights, but Redmill sees a glimmer of hope, believing that Kadyn is making strides to improve. You know, it’s not just Kadyn Proctor who’s been under the microscope.

There’s another angle to this whole offensive line conundrum that’s worth considering. It’s been like a game of musical chairs out there in terms of the lineup, folks. You don’t have to take my word for it. Griff Redmill’s singing the same tune:

Another issue is the fact they have had to mix and match guys in the lineup for whatever reason. Didn’t have 52 (Tyler Booker) vs USF. Then started 77 at RG (Jaeden Roberts) vs Texas A&M. As guys develop and earn playing time they will try to get them in the game. Even if a guy is playing better in practice and maybe earned the opportunity to start, it’s always difficult to plug him in there with a different unit at first.

So, it’s not just about who’s playing better in practice; it’s about the chemistry, folks.

Seth McLaughlin • Courtesy of Cedric Mason • Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Seth McLaughlin, who’s been an anchor for the past three seasons, was once the guy who could shut down a former 1st round draft pick like Jordan Davis single-handedly. Lately, we’ve seen uncharacteristic bad snaps and other hiccups from him. His old teammate Chris Owens weighed in on the situation, saying, “A lot of what you might be seeing, might be because of the new pieces around him. Getting used to those guys. He may have to communicate more with (Kadyn) Proctor on one end. Everything is brand new. New quarterback and new OC.” Seth’s shouldering a lot of the load up front, which lines up with what Griff Redmill mentioned.

Is There Hope?

Owens, though, is optimistic, suggesting that these problems are bound to be ironed out in due time.

The longer the season goes on, you start to get more comfortable. Guys start to understand their role/assignment. You don’t have communicate with them as much. Then, as the center, you only have to make the call for the running back…and not have to make the call for the two tackles or the guards on the inside. You put a lot of pressure on him (Seth) if you’re just relying on him to get 6-7 lined up at once. Everyone has to pick up their communication around him.

Antoine Caldwell in the 2005 Cotton Bowl • Courtesy of G. N. Lawrence • Getty Images

In my conversations with those who know the game inside and out, we’ve started to unveil some of the mysteries surrounding Alabama’s offensive line struggles. It’s not the complete picture, but it’s a promising place to begin.

As former All-American and NFL veteran Antoine Caldwell aptly put it:

I think this group is truly ‘trial by fire’. Some players can get better with practice and a lot of reps. This group has to get better from the games. It creates a rollercoaster but I feel like the team as a whole is settling in.

In the end, I’ll place my trust in the insights of these true experts. While it might not be an instant remedy, there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon. We can take solace in the prospect of brighter days ahead.