"You Asked" OL Coach Bob Connelly

BamaMag.com recently took a moment with Alabama Offensive Line Coach Bob Connelly to relay a wide range of questions submitted by our subscribers.

Sarge4tide asked how the three redshirt offensive linemen, B.J. Stabler, Cody Davis and Antoine Caldwell, were progressing.

"Very, very well. I am pleased with all three of them. They are going to be very good football players for us," Connelly said. "I'm really excited about them all, to be honest. They are all going to play early and often. Cody is been doing a great job at the tackle position, B.J. has been playing a lot of tackle and Antoine playing center and guard.

"All three of those guys are going to see playing time for us next year and I think they all have the ability to help us and be out there on a regular basis."

Another question from Sarge4tide was what does Connelly look for in a high school offensive linemen when evaluating him. Connelly said, "There are several things, but three that are major components. One thing is aggressiveness. I really like a kid who is not afraid to put his face in there, who is going to come off the football and play aggressive and play physical.

"The second thing is flexibility/mobility. Do they have good knee bend? Are they waist-benders or knee benders? I'm looking for a knee-bender, a kid who has good leverage, can bend his body and move in space and move athletically.

"The third thing, probably, along with the flexibility is base and balance. A kid who is on the ground a lot makes me nervous. I want a guy who is going to stay on his feet who is capable of staying on his feet. That's part of being an athlete, being athletic and moving around."

KennaBamaGal asked what has been the main difference he notices between last year's line and this year's.

"I think the biggest difference is just continuity – playing together, understanding the system offensively and schematically, knowing where I'm coming from, taking the coaching points better, and just a total philosophy, the understanding of it," Connelly said. "The more we play together the better we feel. We're a team within a team as an offensive line. The more reps those guys get together the better they're going to feel and the better they're going to be. I think we've got a good group of guys and a good chemistry. They like one another, they work hard and they push each other."

BamaDave82 asked why not apply a similar philosophy of the defensive line, where young players have been inserted early into games, with (building) depth?

"The biggest difference on the offensive line and defensive line on that is there's continuity," Connelly said. "We're a team within a team. We've got five guys who have to be on the same page on every play, and they've got to know what the guy next to him, what his responsibility is and what he's going to do, and they have to have full faith and trust in the guy next to them to get their job and their responsibilities done.

"It's continuity, knowing the guy next to you, knowing what he's going to do, knowing how he's going to come off, his speed, his aiming points, his technique and his abilities. You can't do that by switching in and out all the time. You just don't get comfortable doing that.

"Wesley Britt's going to be very comfortable with Evan Mathis next to him. If I was to stick a Mark Sanders, Taylor Britt, or anybody in for that matter it's going to slow down the success of Wesley Britt because he's not going to be sure what that guy's going to do. You're not able to do that as much on the offensive line. Again, they're one. One guy breaks down in the offensive line and it's major trouble. Obviously I'd like to put more guys in, I'd like to be in situations in the football games to do that, or I'm not accustomed to doing that and it's not something I'm comfortable with."

DTNJ asked if the Alabama offensive line back-ups were ready for Southeastern Conference play right now.

"Our depth is coming along. Our young kids are getting better every day. It's a learned thing. More than anything with the young guys, they've got to get physical," Connelly said. "They've got to be able to play in the SEC and hold up against the 300-pound guys that have been in the weight room for four or five years. That's the biggest factor when you factor in a young offensive lineman as opposed to a young defensive lineman. Young defensive linemen can play a lot earlier in this conference whereas an offensive lineman, physically it's tough and then mentally they are asked to do a lot more than defensive linemen are, too."

Another question was, in what ways is coaching offensive line in the SEC different from coaching offensive line in the PAC-10?

"The biggest difference is just philosophy. We're in a run-oriented conference," Connelly said. "But other than that, you're playing against very good football players in all the major conferences and very good football teams. They've all got good athletes.

"The biggest thing is just philosophy. You're playing against a run-oriented scheme. You're maybe a little bit bigger and a little bit more physical whereas out there in the Pac-10 you might have some more speed. Obviously the schemes are different offensively. They're pass to set up the run and we're run to set up the pass."

FatJack asked what has helped Danny Martz improve this season.

"The off-season, the timing of all this when I first got here was difficult, but I had a lot of time last spring to invest in those young guys, the guys who have not had the experience of some of the others," Connelly said. "We really honed in on the fundamentals and techniques… whether it be pass protection or run blocking, working on our pad level, our technique, our footwork, aiming points. All those things that help them become better football players in the long run.

"Danny Martz, just like I said earlier, it's repetition, experience and being out there. It's being out there. He's getting a lot of opportunities to get better and work on those things. I'm really pleased with the progress that he made. He was our most improved offensive lineman this spring, and that has carried over and he has had the great work ethic and is working hard.

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