Spring Progress Pleases Saban

Alabama has completed only four spring football practices, only two of them in full gear, and the Crimson Tide is still a week away from the first scrimmage, but thus far Bama Coach Nick Saban said he is pleased with the progress.



The two hour Alabama practice was moved to the indoor facility Saturday because of threatening weather in the area. Bama worked for two hours in front of high school coaches attending a coaching clinic hosted by The University Friday and Saturday.

Coach Nick Saban said, "Practice basically has gone a little better each day. I see improvements in different areas. I thought we threw and caught the ball better today than we have been. That's been a little bit of issue. There's been a little bit of wind. But I was really pleased with the way some of the receivers had made some progress today and did a really good job.

"One of the things we need to focus on since we've had pads on two days is having physical toughness up front. That's one of the things we need to improve on defensively up front in being good tacklers and playing good fundamental technique.

"On the other side of that, the offensive line has done a pretty good job of getting a hat on a hat, blocking people, and finishing, and the runners have done a good job of finding the holes, so that has been a good thing.

"In the week ahead we're still installing on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday before we scrimmage next Saturday. We try to get most of what we do in by then, even though we may not scrimmage all those things next Saturday. We have an installation schedule. We try to expose our players to a lot of things. Then after this next week we'll start doing some things that we don't see from our offense (that doesn't see from our defense) and our defense doesn't see from our offense so we can start preparing for some of our opponents next season by seeing different things.

"Things are going well. We're pleased with the progress. We're not where we need to be. We're not satisfied with the way we're progressing, and we've got to work to improve. But I like the effort and the attitude that the team has demonstrated. I'm pleased with the progress the team has made, but we've got a long way to go."

Saban also commented on the status of two players that were missing from Saturday's practice. Junior offensive lineman Tyler Love was out after having suffered "a little bit of a concussion," Saban said. He said "They held him out a day until they could test him a little bit more."

Saban said that sophomore defensive lineman Brandon Moore had been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.

Here are Saban's comments on various subjects following Saturday's practice:

HOW NEW PLAYERS ARE DOING

"Jesse Williams has done a nice job and he's someone I think is definitely going to contribute. Quinton Dial probably is going to contribute. Aaron Douglas is going to contribute on the offensive line. I think all three of those guys, their maturity is going to help them develop a little more quickly.

"Dee Hart has done a nice job as a runner. I see some positives there, maybe even as a punt returner and some other things that could enhance our team.

"Trey (DePriest) and Vinnie (Sunseri) have both done a nice job.

"Wilson Love is doing okay.

"Ronald Carswell is swimming a little bit trying to learn, but is doing okay.

"Both the young quarterbacks did a nice job the first day. [He was asked about Phillip Ely, but may have also been including Blake Sims.] The second day they started getting a little overload. The third day they got total overload. So they are going to have to sort it out. I think there's certainly a process they are going to go through. We're probably installing things a little more quickly than might be comfortable for them, but certainly is comfortable for A.J. (A.J. McCarron) and Phillip (Phillip Sims) and that's what we need to do. Those guys (young quarterbacks) are going to have to pick up the second time around, the third time around. Each day I think they'll have a better understanding and eventually they'll probably get it pretty good."

BACK-UP CENTERS

"We tried Tyler Love there, and he did a nice job. Now we're trying Kellen Williams there, and he has done a really nice job as a back-up center. Chad Lindsay has been there. We wanted to get one more young player who we thought had the potential to be a starter so there were two guys competing so we would have three solid centers. Some of these things have to sort out, but I have been really encouraged by the progress Kellen Williams has made the last couple of practices."

DEE HART

"Dee Hart is a very bright guy, learns things quickly, is very instinctive on the field, and seems to have a natural knack in space to catch the ball and has good ball judgment, so he is a guy we are going to try to develop as a punt returner. But it's too early to tell. He has never been in a live situation, so this scrimmage coming up will be a time to be able to evaluate that. I think Marquis Maze has made some progress and has a better understanding of some of those things. But I have been impressed with Dee Hart overall. He's a very bright guy, runs quickly, and is very instinctive."

[AS FOR HART'S SIZE 5-9, 190]

"There are only two guys on the team who are shorter than I am, and he's one of them. But you don't have to be very big to carry the ball. It only weighs 13 ounces. It is a position you can make a significant impact.

"Javier Arenas is one of the guys that I'm taller than, too, and he was a pretty good player for us.

"Dee is in the 190s, one of those running backs who is in the 190s. Even though he is shorter, he is compact and I think he has toughness, so I don't think that's an issue."

DONT'A HIGHTOWER

"Dont'a Hightower has done a really good job this off-season. The off-season program probably got him over the hump. The last week and a half of the off-season program he started to look like he had the conditioning, the quickness, the movement he had before. He started to look like that in the bowl practice. So each one of the cycles we go through he makes a little more progress. He really practiced well yesterday and today in terms of quickness, looking more explosive; I think he's lost a little weight, which has helped him. We've been pleased with the progress he's made. He's done a really nice job from a leadership standpoint. I think last year he probably wasn't quite ready with all the other things he was overcoming to make the kind of impact we needed someone to make, but this year he certainly seems to be ready and willing and has done a really good job in providing leadership, in terms of the effort he gives in practice and the attitude he has. His knowledge and experience is certainly something that makes him more prominent. He did play a different position last year at middle linebacker, and being the signal-caller was a lot of responsibility for him."

COACHING CLINIC:

"It was really great to have the clinic here. I think we had somewhere between 1,100 and 1,200 coaches. I'm so happy that The University and Mal Moore support the clinic so we can have an outstanding clinic with outstanding speakers. We offer hospitality so we can give back professionally to our peers, the high school coaches, who do so much to help us in terms of developing players we have success with here, as well as help us with recruiting, and all the things they do to impact young people to do what they want to do. We had a lot of really good speakers and we were really very, very pleased with the turnout we had and the participation. We enjoyed it and I think they enjoyed watching practice for a couple of days. We really appreciate what high school coaches do for young people and this is our way of trying to give back to them professionally and we really enjoyed having them around here for two days."

Speakers for the clinic included New York Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan, former Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden, Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator Fred Pagnac, Vikings Defensive Line Coach Karl Dunbar, former Bama players Jarret Johnson and DeMeco Ryans, and former Miami Hurricanes Head Coach Randy Shannon.

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