It was announced Wednesday in Tuscaloosa that the Alabama offensive line had earned the inaugural Joe Moore Award, according to the USA Today. The award, named for the late Joe Moore who was the offensive line coach at Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, is presented to the country’s top unit and will be given out at the conclusion of every season hereafter. The Crimson Tide beat out finalists from Stanford, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Iowa and fellow-SEC school Arkansas.
The award is just the latest in a season full of accolades for Alabama, who finished the season as the No. 2 team in the country, playing for a shot at the National Championship in just the second College Football Playoff. The Alabama offensive line provided the holes for running back Derrick Henry to run through en route to capturing the Heisman Trophy. Henry became just the second Alabama player ever to win the award, following in the footsteps of fellow running back Mark Ingram who took home the hardware in 2009. Henry added the Maxwell and Walter Camp Awards for the nation’s top player, as well as the Doak Walker Award for the country’s best running back.
The Crimson Tide offensive line helped propel Henry to a school and SEC-record 1.986 yards to go along with 23 touchdowns. The line was led by senior Ryan Kelly, who is ranked as the second best center prospect in the upcoming NFL Draft, according to CBS Sports. The other senior up front for Alabama was right tackle Dominick Jackson, who ranks as a top-25 prospect at his position, according to most publications. At left tackle was sophomore Cam Robinson, who was unanimously considered the top tackle coming out of high school. Redshirt freshman Ross Pierschbacher and junior Alphonse Taylor manned the guard positions.
Mario Cristobal is in his third season as Alabama offensive line coach and assistant head coach after spending six years as the head coach at Florida International University. Cristobal is proud of the work his unit accomplished and the award bestowed on them, but knows there’s still work to be done, as covered by the university’s official athletic site.
“Like a lot of offensive lines, our guys worked hard all year long, battled through adversity and improved every week. This offensive line plays the position the right way, with toughness, teamwork and a relentless focus on being dominant on every snap. We’ll need to keep that up and keep improving down the stretch, because this is the part of the year where good offensive line play counts the most.”
The actual, physical Joe Moore Award is appropriate, too, which might just take the entire Alabama offensive line to carry. The trophy stands six-feet tall and weighs 350 pounds. Cam Robinson comes the closest in comparable weight at 326 pounds, but has the sculpture beat by about six inches in height. When the Tide finally gets back on the field New Year’s Eve, they’ll be facing one of the stingiest defensive lines in the country in Michigan State. Defensive end Shilique Calhoun was third in the Big Ten with 11 sacks, and Joel Heath will provide plenty of resistance at his defensive tackle position.
Coaches and former colleagues of Coach Joe Moore formed a voting committee for the award along with every offensive line coach in the FBS and select media members. CBS Sports college football analyst and Committee Chairman Aaron Taylor expressed how they came to the decision in awarding Alabama the inaugural Joe Moore Award for the nation’s most outstanding offensive line.
“Many voters shared how impressed they were with the physicality and athleticism of the Crimson Tide’s offensive line unit. The film shows them exploding off of the ball, getting to the second level and working to finish plays, which is the hallmark of outstanding offensive line play.”
[Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]