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October 10, 2013

Kouandjio seeks consistency

He entered the season projected as one of the top players in college football and the best overall prospect on the offensive line.

But projections for University of Alabama left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio are nothing more than opinions, opinions that are accompanied by expectations and pressure. UA head coach Nick Saban doesn't have much use for what could be or what should be. As the seventh-year Alabama coach is fond of saying, it is what it is.

What Kouandjio is at the moment is an offensive lineman working to get better.

"I feel as if I need to improve in consistency," Kouandjio said. "I have good plays and I have bad plays. Just two or three bad plays for me and I feel like I did terrible in the game, because I know better as an offensive lineman. You can play any position out there on the field, like defensive line, you can mess up here and there and it wouldn't really matter. As an offensive lineman, you know better. You can't mess up, you (must) be perfect. I'm trying to work on my consistency."

ESPN's Mel Kiper listed Kouandjio the fifth best prospect among draft eligible players. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah put Kouandjio the No. 6 player in college football.

But Kouandjio has struggled at times, getting beat on inside and outside rushes, and he's also had two holding calls and a false start. Play the game long enough and every football player gets beat, the rationale goes, and Kouandjio has played more consistently over the past two games. He was named an offensive player of the week by the coaching staff for his performance against Georgia State.

Saban said overall he's pleased with his left tackle's play.

"I think Cyrus has played very well overall, if you look overall," Saban said. "I think that a lot of expectations get created with these guys. I hate it that Mel Kiper and all these guys say this is the No. 1 guy at his position. I mean they don't even have an idea. Most of the teams haven't even evaluated them yet when they are underclassmen. But what it does, it creates the expectation that this guy is the best left tackle that ever played the game. So every time he gets beat he's not playing very well.

"But the fact of the matter is he still plays pretty well. Has he got beat a few times? Yeah. Is that that unusual for any player? Probably not. I'm sure if you ask him he would tell you things he wants to improve and do better. I think there are things we would like him to improve on and get better, but nobody here is disappointed in how he has performed and you know we'll keep on trying to help him be as consistent performer as we can."

Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0229.


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