Texas’ Interior offensive line vs. Alabama’s stout defensive front
The biggest concern Texas should have coming into this game is how the interior offensive line holds up against an Alabama defensive front chocked full of NFL talents. Texas had multiple miscommunications and missed blocking assignments in the win over Rice last weekend.
Kyle Flood’s starting group along the interior offensive line struggled the most in Week 1 against Rice. Junior guard Hayden Conner and sophomore guard DJ Campbell were two of the lowest-graded starters along the offensive line for Texas last week.
The interior offensive line also was getting pushed around by Rice on certain plays, especially in the first half.
Texas let up multiple quarterback pressures against three and four-man pressures against Rice in the opener. Ewers was sacked twice in the first half against three and four-man pressure looks from Rice in Week 1 (tied for the most of any Big 12 team).
The good news is that the Texas interior offensive line looked more buttoned up in the second half. Texas had fewer blown blocks and gave Ewers a cleaner pocket in the second half compared to the first 30 minutes.
That trend must continue for Texas’ interior offensive line to give Ewers the necessary time to go through his reads and for the ground game to have some success against Alabama.
This Alabama defensive front is one of the best at pass rushing from the interior defensive line of any team in the nation in the last couple of seasons. Alabama’s defensive front led the SEC in pressure rate and sack rate from the interior defensive line last season.
Flood and Sark seem to have a plan to adjust along the interior offensive line this week. Part of that plan will likely run more protection-heavy sets in 12 personnel with six or seven blockers to help Ewers get more time in the pocket to get his throws off.
During his Thursday press conference, Sark mentioned that Campbell will be active against Alabama and has improved in practice this week after an up-and-down performance against Rice in Week 1.
It will be key to watch how Texas rotates along the interior offensive line this weekend against Alabama, as it sounds like Campbell and fellow sophomore guard Cole Hutson will get snaps on Saturday.