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Alabama Football Film Room: Lester Cotton looks ready to start again

Cotton started five games last season but had given way to others by year’s end.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Alabama vs Clemson Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Lester Cotton is, according to the released depth chart, your starting right guard. The junior from Tuscaloosa opened last season as the starting left guard before flipping to the right side and eventually losing the starting job altogether.

His talent has been evident since he arrived on campus, and it looks like this is his year. While the right side of the offensive line was in flux during the offseason, Cotton remained with the first team whether at right guard or tackle. With the improvement of Matt Womack and the apparent emergence of true freshman Jedrick Wills at right tackle, Cotton should be able to focus and settle in at right guard.

Just simple run-blocking here. Cotton steps forward and gets his hands on the defensive tackle. He drives him to the left and uses the momentum to shove the defender to the ground. Cotton falls on him for good measure.

3rd and 10: Daeshon Hall, the defensive end, rushes inside and beats Jonah Williams with a nifty little swim move. Cotton is there, and he even looks right at Hall and Williams. Instead of moving to pick up Hall, he keeps scanning; and Hall just blows right by him. Hall dives right into Jalen Hurts as he throws it; and the linebacker picks it off.

2nd and 9: O.J. Howard has his hand in the dirt on the right side of the line, and Gehrig Dieter is on the right as well at H-back. Jonah Williams takes on the defensive end, and Cotton chips him before pushing forward to the second level. Cotton gets through and picks up his linebacker and successfully turns, boxing him out.

2nd and 10: Cotton is matched up one-on-one with defensive end Lewis Neal in pass protection. Cotton does a great job of keeping a wide base and gets a good punch in on Neal to disrupt his initial move. Neal goes inside then tries to spin back, and Cotton uses Neal’s own momentum to give him a little extra shove.

3rd and 2: Cotton is opposite Isaiah Buggs. He lets Buggs come to him, no punch or anything; and Buggs gets right inside his chest. Cotton, lacking leverage and good hand placement, gets driven back several yards before finally standing Buggs up. Hurts scrambles off to the right, but Cotton does keep looking to see what he can do and ends up throwing a little block against Buggs when Hurts cuts back to the left.

1st and 10: Cotton and Womack initially double-team Buggs. They shove him back, and Cotton keeps churning forward. Buggs gets moved aside, and Cotton lets Womack take him, moving on and picking up Keith Holcombe.

2nd and 10: Cotton steps left and engages with the defensive tackle. He gets under the defender’s pads and begins driving him back. Cotton stays with the block until Matt Womack makes it over, and he passes the block off seamlessly. Cotton successfully moves on to the second level and gets right in the chest of the Rashaan Evans, who doesn’t stand a chance. It’s a minimal gain, but Cotton did well.