Alabama Football Spring Update: Progress on the offensive line spells good news for 2012 Crimson Tide

What is the second most important position in football? If you believe some of the Las Vegas sports experts, the center is just that position. The center can play a key role in the chemistry and execution of the entire offensive line. So, with a new player snapping the football following Alabama’s 2011 national championship, it is worth taking a look at how the new center is doing.

And how is Barrett Jones doing at center?

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron provided the answer, but not without a bit of fun.

“I don’t want to call Barrett an athlete because that will be giving him too much credit,” Alabama quarterback McCarron said. “He is though. The guy can play anything on the offensive line. He is going to have his ups and downs, but he is a veteran and fights through adversity. …I feel like he has done a good job so far and we are going to get better.”

It is a learning process for Jones. Alabama Crimson Tide Football Coach Nick Saban offered this analysis of where Alabama’s center stands at this point in Spring Practice.

“Barrett is making adjustments to being a center. We’re pleased with the progress that he’s made, but that’s not his natural position,” Saban said. “Even though he played there some last year, I think he’d be the first one to tell you that the more he plays it, the better he’s going to feel about it.”

McCarron had nice things to say about the entire Alabama offensive line.

“I love those guys to death,” McCarron said of the Crimson Tide offensive line. “They protect me. It makes my process easier when you know you’ve got older guys up there that do anything to protect you and know how to protect you.”

As for the Alabama offensive line Saban had this to say, “We have four guys who have a lot of experience,” he said. However, after that the line has been a bit thin with Alabama needing players to step up to make plays.

Following the first scrimmage, Saban praised right tackle D.J. Fluker, guards Anthony Steen and Chance Warmack and left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.

“D.J. Fluker has had a phenomenally good spring,” Saban said. “He is moving better, is more confident, and knows what he is doing. Steen has had a really good Spring. Chance Womack is probably the most consistent player we had last year in the offensive line and has had a good Spring. Cyrus is learning every day and getting better every day. I think he is back to being 100 percent.”

Saban said Kouandjio is faced with “playing himself into shape” since he missed four weeks of the offseason program.

Saban said bluntly after the first scrimmage that this Alabama team needs more depth along the line. Depth was an important issue in 2010 with several offensive linemen experiencing injuries during the season.

McCarron said the offensive line benefits from facing Alabama’s defense in practice.

The Alabama offensive line sees “every blitz get thrown at you, especially practicing against Coach Saban and him drawing blitzes up in the dirt over there,” McCarron said. “Those guys are great. We are going to have a really good year and a really good offensive line.”

That is a ringing endorsement from Alabama’s quarterback. However, it will be wise to watch the reviews for the center during the rest of Spring Practice.