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Alabama Football Film Room: Emil Ekiyor looks ready to make his case

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The redshirt freshman could have a big opportunity this year.

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Alabama vs Georgia Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

One of the big questions for Alabama is how the offensive line ends up looking. Two season-long starters from the 2018 line are back. Jedrick Wills will end up as the right tackle once more while Alex Leatherwood has kicked back outside to left tackle after playing right guard in 2018.

Matt Womack, the starter at right tackle in 2017, is also back and could be primed to replace Leatherwood at right guard. Deonte Brown, who started several games at left guard late in 2018, returns; but he has to serve a four game suspension, which gives another player a chance to shine.

For most of the spring, Chris Owens practiced at center; and that’s where he started on A-Day. The beneficiary of Brown’s absence could be redshirt freshman Emil Ekiyor Jr., who started at left guard at A-Day.

2nd and 6: Ekiyor (#55) is the left guard. He chips nose tackle D.J. Dale (#94) before trying to move up to the second level where he needs to block linebacker Joshua McMillon (#40). Unfortunately for Ekiyor, he gets tangled up in LaBryan Ray’s (#89) legs and can’t maneuver. He can only try to shove at McMillon in vain, and the linebacker is one of three in on the tackle on Najee Harris (#22).

1st and 10: You may recall this play from the breakdown on Eyabi Anoma’s performance. Ekiyor pulls right and withstands Anoma’s charge well. He gets one hand right in Anoma’s chest and the other on Anoma’s left shoulder pad and controls the block.

3rd and 8: It’s the next play, and Ekiyor goes up against Ray here. Ray tries to wipe away Ekiyor’s hands and initially gets his hand in the left guard’s chest while driving him back a few steps. Ekiyor recovers, however, and stands Ray up with good leverage.

1st and 10: Ekiyor shows some nice quickness here in getting up to the second level. He quickly engages Dylan Moses (#32) and knocks him back. Moses escapes to his left, though; and when Ekiyor tries to re-engage, Moses sidesteps him. It didn’t matter since Anfernee Jennings (#33) took care of Najee Harris.

2nd and 2: Ekiyor pulls right again on this one. McMillon has come around the edge, and Ekiyor meets him. Ekiyor gets lower than McMillon and does his part for Jerome Ford (#27). Moses fills the hole quickly and stuffs Ford, but that’s not Ekiyor’s fault.

1st and 10: Ekiyor matches up against Dale here. Ekiyor gets lower, and he gets his arms inside of Dale’s, who manages absolutely nothing against Ekiyor. By the time Dale gets around, Tua Tagovailoa has already thrown the ball.

3rd and 8: Ekiyor has moved to center. He snaps it and drops back with his focus to the right. I believe this is Christian Barmore (#58) based on the previous play, but I’m not 100% certain. That’s who I’m going with, though. Barmore comes around off the right guard and crashes into Ekiyor. Ekiyor goes back a yard or so and uses Barmore’s momentum to fling him down and to the left, causing the defensive lineman to stumble aside. We don’t get the full shot of it, unfortunately.

2nd and 10: Ekiyor snaps the ball and immediately turns to his left to confront Dale. Ekiyor once again has his hand right in the defender’s chest, and he stands Dale up. Ekiyor does not yield any ground, though he does not generate any push either.