Rock-Solid Line

If you're searching for a reason behind the University of Alabama football team's surprising 5-0 start, look no further than the No. 6 Crimson Tide's impressive offensive line.

Following a jumbled start to the season, offensive line coach Bob Connelly has developed a consistent starting lineup and rotation, which has sparked the offense heading into Saturday's 11 a.m. game at Ole Miss.

For the past three games, the same starters - sophomore left tackle Chris Capps, redshirt freshman left guard Antoine Caldwell, senior center JB Closner, redshirt freshman right guard B.J. Stabler and junior right tackle Kyle Tatum - have taken the field, with impressive results.

Alabama is 3-0, outscoring South Carolina, Arkansas and Florida by a combined 92-30 in the process. The Tide is averaging 399 yards of total offense during that stretch, 195 of those on the ground.

Tatum, himself a converted defensive tackle, thinks his young teammates‚ quick development is a major plus.

"They're making fewer and fewer mistakes, and that's the whole thing up front," he said. "You see them going out each and every week and they‚ve gotten better. They‚re all playing fast."

Senior center J.B. Closner has served as the line's rock, the one who calls signals out at the line and picks up his teammates after they make an inevitable mistake or two.

"JB's the guy that keeps us together, picks me up when I do something wrong," Tatum said. "I think he molds everything together, being the center, with all the communication, identifying their (defensive) front and what they‚re trying to do."

Closner deflects the praise, saying the young line's development is part of a natural process.

"There are so many different situations that can be thrown at you," he said. "You know what you're supposed to do, but until it actually happens you don't know how anyone's really going to react to it. It's happening real easy now for everyone."

So far, so good, he said.

"I think we've gotten better every week," Closner said. "We're gelling more every week, it's getting easier for everyone - we're constantly improving. I think we've come a long way from the first game."


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