TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama’s decreased efficiency in the running game against Arkansas certainly had an effect of the offensive line.
Center William Vlachos summed it up.
“After the game, it almost felt like we lost because we didn’t run the ball the way we should,” he said. “This week, we are going to take it upon ourselves to be even more prepared and even more ready for what we’re going to see this coming week.”
That line will see a defense that is struggling against strong running teams Saturday. Kentucky ranks last in stopping the run as its three opponents have generated an average of 185.7 yards per game. Florida piled up 362 rushing yards in last week’s 41-7 win.
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Kentucky’s pass defense is faring better as it ranks sixth in the conference.
The debate over cut blocking continued in the week after Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower’s season ended thanks to one. Whether or not it should be completely outlawed is a difficult question for Alabama coach Nick Saban. The only rule on the books currently outlaws a second player from submarining a defender when he’s already engaged by another blocker.
“I don’t know how you correct it without making sort of a huge impact on the effect it would have on the game,” Saban said.
Defenders also have a responsibility of recognizing an approaching low block, and then shed it as trained, Saban said.
Mike Johnson offered the offensive line point of view.
Outlawing the cut block “would definitely eliminate a lot of what we do here,” Johnson said. The block is common on quick passing plays when lineman take defenders’ legs out to avoid tipped passes.
“When you pull around and try to get into the secondary, it’s harder for a bigger guy to kind of stop and hit guys in space,” he said. “That’s when you see guys throw at knees and try to get a guy down.”