Saban Discusses Start Of Practice

On a weekend when The University of Alabama was holding commencement exercises for both spring and summer graduates (the spring ceremony was postponed because of the April 27 tornado), the Crimson Tide football team was beginning fall camp. There were some allusions to the real business of college on the football side.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said Crimson Tide football players "had probably the best test results around here that we've had in a couple years based on how many guys passed the test. We had the lowest number of guys fail the test I think for three years so that's encouraging. Still, we have to go out on the field and really need to play. There's a lot of opportunities at a lot of positions for players."

The "test" Saban discussed was the one that indicates Crimson Tide players have done the work leading up to fall camp. He said that "it's kind of like" Alabama players had classes in the off-season – the Fourth Quarter winter conditioning program, spring practice, and the summer workouts.

"Now it's the final exam," Saban said. He said players must take what they learned in those previous "classes" to have success.

The Crimson Tide coach also made mention of the expectations that others have for Bama's football team in 2011, the Tide being the favorite to win the Southeastern Conference championship and contend for the national title. Those predictions, Saban said, "mean about as much if you go to the fortune teller and the fortune teller tells you if something's gonna happen good or bad. That's about what it means. If we want to go through the season kind of like, 'This is what the fortune teller thinks,' then that's what all this stuff means that ya'll put out there."

The obvious answer to Saban: No, no, no! "Expectations are created externally," he said.

"The outcome of this season is going to be created by how our players do," Saban said. "It's going to be based on what we do, how we play, how we practice, how we prepare. The kind of commitment to the standard of excellence that we have. The kind of work ethic we have as a team, the kind of mental and physical toughness to finish and play for 60 minutes in the game. The kind of leadership that we have on our team.

"All those things will contribute to what we do, not what we can do.

"Everyone will benefit from the team's success, but every individual will be responsible for doing what they're supposed to do will help develop the team chemistry and the team attitude and the team's success by what they do."

The Alabama football team began its 2011 fall training slate with a split practice at the Drew-Thomas Practice Facility on Friday morning. Players were in helmets and shorts. The morning practice was primarily returning players, but, Saban said, "It's not completely split on seniority or the depth chart. We do it really for organizational purposes." By that he means that he doesn't want an overload of players at one position or a lack of players at a position in a workout.

The second of 29 practices is scheduled for Saturday when the entire reporting team will work together.

Alabama opens the season on September 3 hosting Kent State in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The Tide's annual Fan Day will take place on Sunday at Bryant-Denny. Fan Day will start with an open practice from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Following practice, student-athletes and coaches will be available for autographs during a 45-minute session on the field. Fans may enter the stadium beginning at 1:30 p.m. through northwest spiral Gate 5 (closest to Wallace Wade Avenue) The line for the autograph session will start at Gate 46.

Saban dismissed the notion of rumored injuries from the summer.

A team may have 105 players in fall camp prior to the start of classes (August 24 at Alabama). It may be that Bama had at least two fewer than that on the first day. Prior to the evening practice, Saban mentioned three players not yet in camp, including freshman tailback Brent Calloway. Calloway had to take a summer course for academic eligibility, but he was in the evening practice, indicating that work had been verified.

Saban said that two wide receivers, junior college transfer Duron Carter and freshman Danny Woodson, were not yet in camp. Saban said The University did not yet have complete information on Carter's grades, "and until we get that information, even though he is here, he is not eligible to practice." He did not reveal the reason for the absence of Woodson, but said he "may be here sometime before school starts."

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