The Laremy Tunsil rumors are all over the damn place: he'll be back this weekend; Hugh Freeze agreed to hold him out for the first two weeks; a masked Mark Emmert is gonna shoot him with a tranquilizer gun and drag him off to the NCAA's version of Guantanamo Bay. The only thing that's clear is that there's at least some chance -- the likelihood of which depends on the third-hand source your buddy/uncle/roommate/coworker/etc. is citing -- that the star left tackle could miss the Bama game on Sept. 19 due to an ongoing NCAA investigation.
That leaves Freeze with one dress rehearsal (against Fresno State) to figure out how to reshuffle the O-line in case he can't take the best offensive tackle in the country to Tuscaloosa with him.
The simplest part of the equation is Fahn Cooper moving from right tackle to left, which he did twice in 2014 while Tunsil was injured and again last week. My first thought when hearing that Tunsil was being held out against UT Martin was that Robert Conyers (who was a reserve tackle last season) would slide from center to fill Cooper's spot at RT and Ben Still (last year's starting center) would move back into his old role.
But the coaches, who seem pretty intent on leaving Conyers at center, instead plugged the right tackle hole with redshirt freshman Sean Rawlings. He struggled a bit against UT Martin, so I have a hard time believing that Freeze will throw him back out against one of the best D-line's in the country on the road in Bryant-Denny.
During his Monday press conference, Freeze hinted that guard Rod Taylor, who's finally back at practice after losing a fist fight against common sense, would take reps at left tackle this week. But that seems to have been a short-lived experiment -- Freeze said Wednesday that Taylor was back at guard after "swimming a bit" at tackle. What a shocker, a guy with a bum shoulder, no collegiate experience at either tackle spot and a track record of struggling to grasp the playbook isn't going to be trusted with Swag Kelly's blind side.
With that experiment presumably over, the only other long-term shift would include last year's starting guard, Aaron Morris, who's still shaking off the after effects of a torn ACL. Once he comes back -- and there's been no word as to when that will be -- that could free up some other options. Maybe Morris or freshman guard Javon Patterson move to right tackle. Maybe right guard Justin Bell, who took reps at center during the offseason, takes over in the middle and allows Conyers to slide back to RT.
For the time being, however, it looks like Freeze has two options:
- Keep Sean Rawlings at RT
- Go back to last season's Tunsil-less lineup: Ben Still at center, Robert Conyers at RT
Of course there's always Option No. 3: the NCAA stops being a bunch of meddling bitches and clears Tunsil.