With the indefinite suspension of Deonte Brown, Lester Cotton must rise to the occasion and play championship level football at the guard position for Alabama Football.
Football games are won and lost in the trenches. Although Alabama Football possesses the most lethal offense in its history, against Oklahoma they will only be as good as the offensive line allows.
Lester Cotton Alabama Football History
For Lester Cotton, he has been a starter. He played extremely well during the 2017 season until a knee injury against Clemson in the College Football Playoff.
Lester Cotton lost his starting job to Deonte Brown during the Missouri game due to struggles, especially in the running game.
Where Lester Cotton is challenged is getting the initial push to create designed holes for the ball carrier. It caused Alabama to shift to more combo blocks to assist Cotton in getting the ‘push’ needed to create running lanes.
The Combo block is a scheme to help move the defensive player, but also transitions in most cases to a ‘scrape block’ in which one of the offensive linemen in the combo block will ‘scrape off’ the initial block to advance to either the linebacker or defensive back.
For Cotton against Missouri, he graded at a 46.1/100 for run blocking. Not only did he require assistance during rushing plays, he required so much assistance the ‘scrape’ was not possible.
What Alabama Needs From Cotton
Alabama Football is going against an Oklahoma defensive unit that has struggled in all aspects this season. However, Oklahoma’s defense has shown the ability to change the outcome of the game with critical turnovers as was done against West Virginia and Texas.
Alabama needs Cotton to not be a blocking liability. If Cotton can hold his own and just manage the game, that is a win for the Alabama offense.
However, if Alabama can get the type of Cotton that played during the 2017 season, the result will show on the scoreboard.
Make no mistake, it isn’t a lack of talent or physical trait that holding Cotton back. It is simply putting the pieces together to be the force he is capable of being. The 2017 version of Lester Cotton was a force to be seen, especially in the running game. He moved defenders at will and became a staple for Damien Harris to rush behind, during his 1,000-yard season.
Key to the Game
The reason Lester Cotton will be the key to the game is he will be the one lineman the Oklahoma defense tests continually throughout the Orange Bowl.
Oklahoma’s defense needs to create every advantage available in order to find success against this juggernaut of an Alabama Football offense.
I expect Oklahoma to blitz, use different types of stunts and twists up front that force Lester Cotton to maintain his responsibility.
If Lester Cotton can uphold his responsibility than Alabama Football will have no troubles moving the football against the Sooners. However, if he cannot maintain his responsibility, expect the Sooners to exploit this weakness. The result could be a slowing down of the offense for Alabama.
At the end of the game, everyone will know how Lester Cotton did. I expect him to rise to the occasion and find the 2017 version of himself against the Sooners.
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