Tide offensive line appears to have hit its stride
by Marq Burnett
Oct 29, 2013 | 1734 views |  0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio (71) with his brother, Arie Kouandjio (77). (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio (71) with his brother, Arie Kouandjio (77). (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio knew the offensive line would improve and said “it’s a process” when trying to get a new unit on the same page each year.

“I’m really glad our offensive line has really gelled together and finally doing the things I know we're capable of,” Kouandjio said. “It took a couple of weeks for us to get things together. After the past couple of weeks, things have been coming together and I’m really glad that everything’s starting to work out.”

The line has appeared hit its stride during the last four weeks as quarterback AJ McCarron hasn’t been sacked once. McCarron has attempted 128 passes since the last time he was sacked.

Kouandjio said he noticed a change in the unit during the win over Ole Miss on Sept. 28.

“We gained a couple of yards here and there, and we just kept improving week after week from there,” he said. “We improved every week, I feel. I feel as if every week we improved and we finally hit that point where we’re doing good and now we're reaching our potential.”

Making the unit’s recent play even more impressive is the fact that they’ve done some shuffling. Starting center Ryan Kelly missed three-and-a-half games with a knee injury and the Tide plugged in backup Chad Lindsay and didn’t fall off. Kelly returned this past Saturday against Tennessee, and the line continued to play well. Also, true freshman Grant Hill split playing time at right tackle with Austin Shepherd for a few games.

“It’s good to have guys that you know are ready to go in any situation,” Kouandjio said. “We have at least three guys on the offensive line other than the starters that are ready to go in there, and they’ll do their job, and we all trust that they’ll do their job. That’s just a convenience. That’s an asset to the team. We really appreciate it.”

Tide coach Nick Saban attributed the offensive line’s growth to individuals improving and more chemistry.

“Some guys are playing with a little better technique,” Saban said. “I think the chemistry’s better. I think the communication’s better. I think the trust in the communication is better. I think the confidence in each other is better. That just comes from guys playing together.

"We have improved. When guys have confidence that helps their improvement. It’s a combination of all those things.”

Kouandjio said there is more trust amongst the guys.

“That comes with time with every offensive line, unless you’re in the league (NFL), and everybody's just perfect,” Kouandjio said. “It’s a process. It’s a process. The quicker you go through the process, the smoother it goes and it's better.”

Heading into the season, the 2013 offensive line heard nothing but comparisons to the 2012 unit, which included three All-Americans. Saban said the comparisons were “not from any of us.”

“There’s nobody in this organization that ever makes any comparisons to another team, last year,” Saban said. “We just want those guys to be as good a players as they can be, play to their full potential, do it on a consistent basis. That should be their expectation. I think they know it's our expectation. There’s no comparison to anybody but their best performance.”
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