Saban Pronounces Work ‘Really Good'

Alabama completed spring football practice with its annual A-Day Game Saturday. But the Crimson 14, White 10 result was not a result as much as it was a new beginning place.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said after the game,  "All in all, I thought that we had a really good spring but the key to this team is: what's the commitment to the standard of excellence that they need to work toward, to commit to, to play to, to believe in, to have faith, trust and confidence in, so that we can be the best team that we can be? I think if we can be the best team we can be, we can have a really good football team.

"Those are all questions that you have to prepare yourself to answer every day. You can't do it the Saturday of the first game; you have to do it every day between now and then. I've been pleased with the way this team has worked this offseason and this spring. We're pleased with the progress, but we obviously have a ways to go in some areas, and a lot of things to work on, and we are looking forward to doing that over the course of the summer and into fall camp."

What about more specific questions, and the answers (if any) Saban got from the 15 days of practice?

"I think the two areas of the team that personnel-wise we have the most questions about is receiver and defensive line.

"I think we made progress at wideout, but I still think there's room for improvement and consistency in what we are doing.

"I think we also made a tremendous amount of progress with the defensive line. Damion Square had a good spring. Ed Stinson has gotten better. The junior college guys (Jesse Williams and Quinton Dial) have made a significant amount of improvement, learning the system and getting more comfortable trying to play things the way we want to play them here. I think the continued development of both those positions is critical."

Saban was also thinking along the lines of Alabama followers in considering the quarterback situation, the competition between sophomore A.J. McCarron and freshman Phillip Sims.

He said, " Obviously at quarterback, we feel like we have two talented guys, but they don't have the experience at the position. How they manage that and how they grow at the position, especially early on, will be key. There are some things they have to learn that they are only going to be able to learn playing in a game. We are pleased with the progress they've made. We understand the issues we have moving forward, but I would rather have two talented guys that really are committed to being good players, wanting to be good. Both of them are gym-rat-type guys when it comes to trying to learn the offense and getting better and studying things. We feel fortunate to have two talented guys to work with."

"We are really pleased with the overall progress we were able to make this spring. This team has a little more maturity, maybe not the star players of some teams in the past, but a lot of guys who have played a lot of winning football around here.  

"Defensively, I think that we have made a lot of progress and a lot less mental errors. We probably play together more as unit than we did last season. Dont'a (Hightower) has assumed a leadership role on this team.

"I think offensively, even though we moved the ball today, we turned the ball over six times (a whistle negated one turnover, so it was officially five) and most of them were fundamental mistakes. One of the things I told you when we started the spring is that, fundamentally, we wanted to become a sound team. We've still got guys carrying the ball away from their body and swinging the ball around. There were several other opportunities for us to fumble the ball again and some of them weren't even forced fumbles.  

"We had a great drive with the first offense against the first defense to start the game, and then we fumbled the ball at the one with a bad snap – that was one that wasn't even a forced fumble. Things like that we need to clean up, but there were a lot of good things out there this afternoon.  

"I thought both of the quarterbacks showed some promise in terms of making good decisions. Both of them threw a pick that probably wasn't a good decision, but I thought they did a really good job of managing the game. We didn't have a lot of issues, and both showed that they have some ability to play the position and to play winning football at the position. We were pleased with that. Trent Richardson obviously had a really big day running the football and catching the football and was our leading receiver.  

"We need to develop some more explosive players on offense, guys that can play skill positions and be consistent, guys like Trent. (Darius) Hanks had a really good spring and so did (Marquis) Maze, but we need other guys to show some maturity and some promise. We have some talent there and some ability, but we have to turn that into winning performance."

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