Vlachos Learned From Caldwell

Antoine Caldwell is gone, but not forgotten. In fact, his name (and the name of Andre Smith) comes up just about every day in discussion of the Alabama offensive line. That's because Bama will be without the two All-America players this year, Caldwell the center and Smith the left tackle (and also right guard Marlon Davis). But life goes on.

William Vlachos considers it "definitely a challenge" to follow Antoine Caldwell. Although no one is naming starters at this point of Alabama fall camp, someone is going to have to step into the shoes of Caldwell, and Vlachos seems to be the odds-on favorite.

Following Bama's Wednesday practice, Vlachos said, "I watched him for two years. He took me under his wing, showed me the secrets of the position."

(And, no, Vlachos wouldn't share any of those snapping secrets.)

Vlachos said his job is "mostly mental," as it is for the offensive line in general. "At center you have to know everyone's assignment" to make the blocking calls.

Although Alabama makes much of moving offensive line players around, Vlachos is working only at the center position.

Vlachos said that Crimson Tide linemen "have a little bit of a chip on our shoulders" with all the talk about the difficulty of replacing Caldwell and Smith. "It's true, we lost two great players," he said. "But we've been in this system as long as they were."

He said, "I take a lot of pride in knowing our offense and in knowing the defense of the teams we play."

Vlachos talked about some of his teammates.

He said freshman offensive lineman D.J. Fluker (6-6, 350)"is huge," but more important Vlachos said is that Fluker "has a willingness to learn. He asks tons of questions. He wants me to stay late and watch film with him."

Vlachos goes head-to-head with All-America nose tackle Terrence Cody in practice. Vlachos said, "He is a great player. He never takes a play off. He has made me better and I think I've helped make him better."

Regarding quarterback Greg McElroy, who is taking over for three-year starter John Parker Wilson, Vlachos said, "He's great. He's done a great job. He's stepped right into the role. Everyone looks up to him. He has definitely stepped up as one of our leaders."

A new quarterback is freshman A.J. McCarron. Vlachos said, "He has really done a good job. He has impressed me. He steps into the huddle with a lot of confidence and he throws it around good."

Big Brother is watching Vlachos and all other Alabama players these days. An overhead camera has been installed in the Hank Crisp Indoor Practice Facility.

"We saw that for the first time today (in film study)," Vlachos said. "There's no slipping away with anything with that."

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