By (Terrin Waack)

Alabama’s offensive is slowly but surely finding its identity just before its game against Arkansas.

It has found a quarterback in Jake Coker, who played his first entire game against Georgia last weekend, and running backs and wide receivers that it can rely on to get the ball down the field. Its offensive line is growing stronger, and the tight ends, who have some things to work on, are getting there.

At right guard, coach Nick Saban said freshman Ross Pierschbacher is a young guy who blocks well and has done a nice job for the Crimson Tide in the short time that he’s been here.

“He and the center [Ryan Kelly] have probably been the two most consistent guys in terms of doing what they are supposed to do,” he said.

He and Kelly aren’t the only players on the offensive line that have been doing a good job this season. Saban said Alphonse “Shank” Taylor continues to get better each and every game.

“I think it starts with his maturity and his approach in how he prepares and how he’s learned to pay attention to detail,” he said.

Taylor has always been a powerful and strong player in Saban’s eyes. He’s been a good run blocker but needed to work on balancing his body control and pass protection.

“As he’s gotten older, he’s realized he has to do things a certain way to be successful,” Saban said. “He’s certainly matured as a competitor, very physical, loves to play and he’s done a really nice job for us so far this year.”

For players like Pierschbacher, Kelly, Taylor and other offensive linemen, there aren’t stats to prove they’ve done well. All that’s out there is recognition from Saban, or other coaches, saying whether or not they are doing well and so far, so good.

But then there are the tight ends.

“We need our tight ends to be able to block,” Saban said.

It’s hard to run the ball like the team – and Alabama fans – would like if the tight ends are unable to block effectively.

Saban said junior O.J. Howard has improved in that area and has done a good job for Alabama this season. If other tight ends were to follow suit, Saban said it would help make the offense more effective.

He’s been trying to shake it up to figure out how to be able to run the ball effectively. Junior Brandon Greene saw time during the Georgia game at tight end. Greene, as a big, physical guy, was also used this way last year. If using him helps the offense, Saban said Greene will continue to be put out on the field.

Although the offense is getting more comfortable and finding its identity, Saban doesn’t want them to settle with where it is at. He wants to hold the team to a higher standard, to be great instead of just being good.

“A standard of excellence and maintaining a standard in how you play,” he said. “I think good is the enemy of being great.”

Alabama’s offense will try and reach this standard of being great this Saturday against Arkansas in Bryant-Denny Stadium. It is also The University of Alabama’s homecoming game, and Saban said homecoming is a great tradition that the team has a lot of respect for.

“It’s an opportunity for people who have great memories and a lot of pride in their school who want to come back to revisit friends and relationships and memories,” he said. “The football game is a great rallying point for all of that.”

This specific game is important to many people, and Saban said the players understand that and want to play well.

It’s also homecoming time for some of the players still in high school that Alabama is recruiting. Because of his history with the tradition, Saban said there’s one question he always asks the players: do you have a date?

“I didn’t have much luck in high school and ended up picking wrong a few times for homecoming and prom,” he said. “It still haunts me to this day.”

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports