Cyrus Kouandjio still learning the ropes

September, 21, 2012
9/21/12
11:53
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Someone needed to remind fans that Cyrus Kouandjio wasn't a starter for the Alabama Crimson Tide last season. He might have looked like one from the minute he stepped foot on campus, playing in all eight games before an injury ended his season, but a starter he was not.

[+] EnlargeBarrett Jones
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesVeteran Tide offensive lineman Barrett Jones has been impressed with Cyrus Kouandjio.
On Wednesday, he reminded every one of that fact, pointing out that there's still a lot for him to learn.

"This is my [first] SEC season playing and starting in college football and it’s been memorable," the Tide's starting left tackle said. "First game, how excited [I was]. I just learned that you just have to keep working."

Fifth-year senior Barrett Jones said he was impressed with the way Kouandjio handled himself in the season opener, taking note of how calm he was during his first career start at Cowboys Stadium against then-No. 8 Michigan.

Another veteran, tight end Michael Williams, drew a comparison to the tackle on the other side of the line when describing Kouandjio's game in Week 2.

“They’re both great blockers. [ D.J. Fluker] probably talks a little more than Cyrus just because he’s been out there a little more," Williams said. "But they’re both great players, and it’s great to play with both of them.”

Kouandjio, the baby of the offensive line as a true sophomore, said he's been pleased with his first season as a starter. He hasn't been perfect on the line, whiffing on a few assignments and exhibiting poor technique on some occasions. Other times he's looked the part of an All-American, flashing the same skill set that earned him a selection on the conference all-freshman team despite playing nearly half the season in a reserve role.

For Kouandjio, it's all a part of growing up as a lineman in the SEC.

"I've had my good moments, my great moments, but I had bad moments," he said on Wednesday. "I'm just glad that these bad moments happened early so they won't happen again."

One of those bad moments happened two weeks ago when the offensive line gave up six sacks to Western Kentucky. Coach Nick Saban said his players were "embarrassed" by the performance and made sure that the mediocre effort wouldn't happen again.

On Wednesday, Saban said he's seen none of the malaise that angered him heading into Alabama's home opener on Sept. 8. For Kouandjio, it was a lesson learned in the value of practice.

"Coach Saban actually called it a ‘I-told-you-so game,’ because in practice the week of the Western Kentucky game we didn’t have the energy that we usually play with," Kouandjio said. "So I think it was a good game because it taught us that you practice as you play."

The following week, the Alabama offensive line didn't allow a single sack on the road in Fayetteville.

"I had a lot more focus and I played a lot better," Kouandjio said. "It’s always about getting better because if you don’t get better you get worse. It’s all about day-by-day and it’s about game-by-game. So you focus on getting better day-by-day."

Alex Scarborough | email

Alabama/SEC reporter

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