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Thursday, January 7, 2010
Pendry's line has come through for Tide

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

PASADENA, Calif. -- There can't be enough written or said about the development of Alabama's offensive line this season.

Rarely at this level of football do you see an offensive line lose three starters, including two All-Americans, and come back the next season and put up better offensive numbers across the board.

And then do it with a first-year starting quarterback.

There's a lot of praise to go around, but the job Alabama offensive line coach Joe Pendry has done with this group has been off-the-charts good.

An NFL veteran with offensive coordinator experience, Pendry is winding down a superb coaching career and having the time of his life. He told me earlier this week that coming back to college after all those years in the pros has been so refreshing for him.

He loves the teaching part of the game, getting players when they're still raw and molding them into a unit.

"I knew we had a lot of smart, tough guys," Pendry said about this group. "How long it would take them to come and how long it would take them to mesh together as a unit … I really didn’t know.

"They’ve really played together well. That’s the thing that sticks out about this group."

Something to keep an eye on tonight is whether or not the Crimson Tide can continue to play as mistake-free on offense as they have for most of this season. They've committed just 10 turnovers in 13 games and have gone eight-and-a-half games without a holding penalty on offense.

It's the reason you never see Alabama facing first-and-20 or second-and-15. It's been a team that's always in manageable down-and-distance situations.

"We work on it," Pendry said. "It’s hard enough to gain 5 yards when you’re doing it perfectly against good competition. If you lose 5 yards before it ever starts, then you have to gain 10 to get it back."