Offensive Line Getting Job Done

Who are Alabama's "Big Uglies?" Big Uglies is the affectionate name given to a football team's offensive linemen. The reason is obvious: They are big and ugly—although I wouldn't say that to their faces.

Alabama's "Big Uglies" are (from left to right in photo) right tackle Drew Davis, right guard Barrett Jones, center William Vlachos, left guard Mike Johnson, and left tackle James Carpenter.

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I'll bet you that some of you almost passed on reading this article. After all, who wants to read about Alabama's offensive line?

You would probably rather read something exciting about Mark Ingram, Greg McElroy, Julio Jones, or even Colin Peek.

We all know those names, but what do we know about Alabama's "Big Uglies?" What do we know about Alabama's offensive line?

Did you even know their names before now?

Did William Vlachos, James Carpenter, Drew Davis, Barrett Jones, and Mike Johnson even ring a bell?

You should know their names because they are one of the main reasons Alabama is going to the BCS National Championship Game in Pasadena on January 7.

If you don't believe me, just ask Ingram, McElroy, Julio Jones, or even Rolando McClain. Ask these gentlemen who opened those holes for Ingram, Trent Richardson, and Roy Upchurch to run through.

Just ask McElroy who gave him the time to complete those passes to Jones, Peek, Marquis Maze, and Darius Hanks. Better yet, ask Alabama's Offensive Coordinator Jim McElwain or Head Coach Nick Saban, because they sure know.

They will tell you without a doubt that nothing was more important to Alabama's success this year than Alabama's offensive line.

Watching Ingram dart through the hole that Johnson and company just opened is more exciting than watching these guys open that hole that allowed Ingram to dart through it.

Watching McElroy hit Jones or Peek for a touchdown will make you jump out of your seat, but you probably didn't even notice the perfect pocket created by Davis, Carpenter, Vlachos, Johnson, and Jones on that play.

Sure, McElroy gets the MVP and Ingram gets nominated for the Heisman, but how about the offensive line? Who recognizes them?

Mike Johnson was named a first-team All-SEC offensive lineman, but who noticed? Did you know that Barrett Jones was named to the All-SEC Freshman team?

This group of young men has been the best-kept secret to Alabama's success this season, at least as far as most fans are concerned.

Not to the team though; these players know how important these so-called "Big Uglies" have been to this 13-0 season and to winning the SEC Championship.

Any coach worth his salt will tell you that big games are won and lost in the trenches.

Coaches like Offensive Line Coach Joe Pendry and Strength and Conditioning Coach Scott Cochran have done an outstanding job with these players.

The SEC Title belongs to the Crimson Tide because Alabama beat Florida in the trenches in Atlanta.

In fact, Alabama beat Virginia Tech, LSU, and every other team on their schedule this year on the line of scrimmage and in the trenches this year.

It's no secret to those star players who accept the awards.

You might think they are just being nice guys when they recognize their offensive line when they accept all these accolades, but they are not just being polite; they mean it.

They know who helped them win that award, and they know who is really responsible for Alabama winning those games.

You know how they know?

They were there when these guys were in the weight room working out every day, and they were there when they were butting heads in practice every day. They saw the blood and sweat on their faces in the huddle.

They look up at them in the huddle every day and say, "Great block" or just, "Good job."

The reason they chase them down and give them a big hug after a touchdown is because they know the play would have never happened if they had failed to do their part.

The next time you see one of Alabama's star players up on stage receiving an award like an MVP or even the Heisman, remember the offensive line.

These guys will not be on the stage when the awards and championship trophies are handed out.

Do you know why?

It's not just because they are that modest—it's because they are too tired from winning the battle in the trenches.

So don't forget the "Big Uglies," Alabama fans, because they made all of this possible.

More than anyone realizes, they are what made this team great, and they played a very important role in making Alabama a champion.

They are the heart and soul of the 2009 Crimson Tide.

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