Connelly Backs Up OL Play

Alabama Offensive Line Coach Bobby Connelly defended his offensive line after the Crimson Tide's practice on Tuesday, and the play of the publicly much-maligned right tackle position.

"I think it's the nature of the position" for critics to over react, Connelly said. "It's the same thing when Ken Darby rushes for 200 yards do you hear about the offensive line doing well or do you hear about Ken Darby being a great running back? If a sack happens do you ever hear about the quarterback not seeing his read or a running back missing his block? No.

"It goes with the nature of the position and that's part of it. We've come to realize that and accept that. Did we play good enough Saturday? No, and there's no secret there."

Junior Chris Capps and senior Kyle Tatum both had opportunities at the position, but Capps got the start and played 56 offensive snaps, while Tatum logged only 9 snaps in the game.

"He's got to believe in his abilities and go out and execute," Connelly said of Capps, who is scheduled to start Saturday night against the league's sack-leading LSU (28 sacks). "We had 71 snaps in that football game and there was five or six of them that he looked real bad and there were 60 that he did okay. So the bottom line is we've got to work to be more consistent and he's got to continue to grow as a football player and gain confidence in himself and his abilities."

Asked if he thought Capps would bounce back, Connelly said, "I think so. Time will tell. Obviously his psyche is down, because he's out there on an island and those type of things show up."

Connelly also credited the opposition. Mississippi State defensive end Titus Brown was credited with only two tackles in the game, and one sack for a 10-yard loss. He had two quarterback hurries on the official stat sheet. Brown is fourth in the Southeastern Conference with seven sacks this season.

"The same guy gave some very good football players in this conference some problems as well," Connelly said. "LSU's tackle, he had problems with Titus. He was up against a good football player and he did not play with the consistency we needed him to play with, and we've got to regroup. I really believe he's got the abilities to do it. The biggest challenge with him is belief."

The Alabama coaching staff has selectively released their internal weekly grades for their players, and they don't often talk in detail about film evaluations. Alabama's football media notes said Capps graded out as the Tide's top offensive lineman in the win over Duke and recorded seven knockdowns in 69 plays.

Capps and Tatum have combined to play in 70 career games, including 49 career starts. Capps, who has played in 28 games and logged 22 career starts, won the job and has started all 10 games in 2006. He has played 553 total snaps this year, including a season-high 72 in the win over Vanderbilt on Sept. 9.

Tatum has played in nine games this season and logged 153 snaps. He had a season- high 35 plays in the loss at Florida (Sept. 30). Tatum's streak of 24 consecutive starts came to an end in the 2006 season opener against Hawai'i. Tatum also saw his streak of 34 consecutive games come to an end against Vanderbilt on September 9 when he missed the game for disciplinary reasons.

Connelly said he was "absolutely, without a doubt" confident in the offensive line going forward. "We're going to come to work each and every day. I think our attitude is very good and we've got a great challenge in front of us in an LSU team rated number one defense in the country and what a better opportunity for our players to respond and go out and have a good game this week."


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