Demotions Follow First Scrimmage

Alabama football players have to earn their jobs each day. Crimson Tide players who don't believe that may be among those who found themselves demoted following Bama's first scrimmage of spring training last Saturday.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban has pointed out since just after last Saturday's scrimmage that there was need for improvement. On Wednesday he was asked about Trent Richardson's attitude, that Richardson -- the heir apparent to former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram at tailback -- believes that he doesn't have the job won. Richardson thinks he has to fight for his job in each practice.

Saban likes that attitude in Richardson.

"We want all our players to feel that way," Saban said.

"There are some guys who got demoted for the way they played in the last scrimmage because they didn't seem to have that attitude," Saban said. The coach has no patience for "anybody around here that has a feeling of entitlement, that just because they played last year, they don't have to do things to a standard that we've set for what we want.

"I don't care if it's effort that they give, toughness that they give, ability to focus and execute. However you want to break it down. If we have somebody else, we'll replace him.

"We had a few players that I didn't feel like really responded that way. Sometimes when you make those role changes, how they respond to that change goes a long way to telling me what kind of player they are, or it tells me what kind of competitor they are, because if they pout about it, that's not really what we want."

Saban said the Monday and Wednesday practices had been predicated in part on the results of the scrimmage, namely trying to improve areas of deficiency, but also continuing the process of installation.

"The focus for two days is to continue to try to install things and challenge our players to learn more of the things that they need to know," Saban said. He reiterated that tackling had not been good in the scrimmage and so there has been an emphasis on that.

"  I don't think we played up front, shedding blockers and holding point like we need to, so that's been a big emphasis for us," he added.

Even though the passing game was effective in the scrimmage. Saban said "we still need to do a better job of consistency and protection.

" That's been a big point of emphasis for us.

"  We're still trying to focus on fundamental improvement, knowledge to the players. We didn't make as many mental errors in our last scrimmage as what we did a year ago. But the effort and the toughness and the intangible things that we were looking for is something that we need to continue to work on and improve, which has been an emphasis in practice.

" I think we have made some progress in that area.

" I think the biggest thing for players in spring practice is to challenge them to have consistency in performance. It all comes from mental energy and intensity on a day-to-day basis.

"We all know that there's going to be practice on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. They should look forward to those days with a positive energy and attitude about what they want to accomplish individually and collectively as a unit and as a team so they have the positive energy and attitude you need to to improve and get the most out of every drill."

Saban said that work in the first two practice days this week had been "pretty good.

"But we still have some guys that struggle to be consistent, up and down. That comes from maturity and understanding that to be a dangerous, competitive player, that comes from a relentless ability to be consistent in what you do regardless of what happened on the play before. That's in all athletics."

For the first time this spring, the installation process included things that are not Alabama. Bama players were exposed to schemes they will see from opponents next year. Saban exposes the players to "the basic fundamental resource of information that they need so that when the time comes next year, we won't be starting from scratch."

There's an axiom that a football team makes its greatest improvement from its first game to its second game. With the Crimson Tide facing its second scrimmage of the spring, Saban was asked if that gme-to-game theory holds true from first scrimmage to second scrimmage and he said he thinks that it does "to a large degree.

"The first time guys are out there, especially the young guys, there's a little anxiety that probably affects their ability to perform. The best way to have performance is probably low anxiety, high achievement motivation. That's what I always thought. That's probably true. Probably high anxiety and low achievement motivation is not good but high anxiety and high achievement motivation is probably not the best way to go about it either.

"I think as these guys get more playing experience, they're going to be more confident. With less anxiety, they're going to see the things that they need to improve on which is going to help them improve from Scrimmage One to Scrimmage Two. I think that especially in certain players, this will be a big jump for them."

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