ed.- bumped from the fanposts
There's no secret that the strength of this year's Alabama team has been outstanding offensive and defensive line play. Quite a few of Florida's players were quoted as saying that the Alabama team was stronger than they expected, that by the end of the game we had really worn them down, and so on.
So now that 'Bama has been tapped to play the undefeated (contain your chuckles, please... show some respect) Utes, how do we match up on the lines?
Alabama Defense vs. Utah Offense
Mount Cody and Company come in averaging 310 pounds each. Clearly this is skewed a little by a giant outlier at nose tackle, but Deaderick and Greenwood aren't small by any standard. Because of the way the 3-4 works, it's worth noting that our three of our starting linebackers come in over 250 as well, with Reamer being the sole exception.
Utah's offensive line is much bigger than you might expect from a Mountain West conference team, posting numbers very much similar to our own. From tackle to tackle, the Utes are all between 305 and 310.
So far this match-up looks generally favorable to Alabama, but not by too wide a margin. That said, from what little I've seen Utah play, while they are just as big, they don't appear to have the same speed on the offensive line that we're used to seeing out of SEC opponents.
Also consider the defensive line's performance against Florida. I don't think it's being too generous to say that Cody & Co. played the Gator O-Line to a draw, and Florida's line is significantly bigger than Utah's, averaging 315 pounds, which includes Hernandez, their 310 lb tight end.
It's entirely possible that it will take three of Utah's linemen to keep Cody out of the running game and it seems very unlikely that he's not going to get a decent push on the pocket, allowing the ends and backers to get some good looks at the ball carriers in the backfield.
Alabama Offense vs. Utah Defense
I tried to find an angle from which to approach this comparison that doesn't leave you asking: "How are they going to keep Alabama from running for 400 yards?" I couldn't really find one. More than any other head-to-head match up in the game, this one should really be no contest. The 'Bama line is big, strong, and fast, and the Utes are giving up nearly 50 pounds a man. Their biggest defender is only barely bigger than Travis McCall and their nose tackle is 60 pounds lighter than Caldwell.
For comparison's sake, consider that Alabama had little trouble getting the running game working against Florida and the Gators average 285 on their defensive line.
When it comes to running the ball, you should expect to see Alabama offensive linemen and lead blockers picking up Utah's linebackers four yards from the line and moving them out of the way.
Bottom line: Utah's defensive coordinator will need to call a near perfect game to keep Coffee and Ingram from averaging 6 or 7 yards per carry because the Utes are just so tremendously out-manned here.