First Practice In Pads Pleases Saban

As a safety precaution for college football players, there is an acclimation process. The first two days of fall practice the players are in shorts and helmets. The next two days are in shorts, helmets, and shoulder pads. Only on the fifth day does the team wear a full uniform.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban thinks that is good for the health and safety of players. He'd like to tweak the rule a bit, allowing players to wear thigh pads for protection on those earlier days. Nevertheless, he thinks it's a good program.

For one thing, he said, "The incremental improvements on a daily basis this time of year is really significant, and I think it has been in each one of our practices. I think yesterday's practice was better than the day before."

On Tuesday, the first day in full gear, he said, "Today's practice, the first one in pads, was probably one of the better ones we have had. The intensity was better. The effort was better. The toughness was better. There are still a lot of areas that we need to improve on in terms of execution, but that is why we need 25 more practices to get ready for that first game."

That first game is against Kent State on September 3 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

On Wednesday, Alabama will have its first of four days in which there will be two practices.  

Saban explained that emphasis has been heavy on installation. Now, he said, that process will start over to some extent. "We'll do a lot less installation and go back and fundamentally cover everything we started with, condense what we have put in, and review it, and after three or four practices we'll be back to where we started from an installation standpoint, but that's all about getting better fundamental execution."

The Tide coach said, "A lot of the older players are doing a very nice job of providing a good example for the young guys. We do have some young guys who may be able to make some type of contribution, but that will be based largely on their maturity, ability to learn, execute and play winning football at their position."

He said three players had missed practice. He said redshirt freshman offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio and freshman offensive lineman Ryan Kelly "are both day-to-day; neither one of them has significant injuries." He also said that defensive lineman Undra Billingsley became ill in the dormitory Tuesday night and was in the hospital for tests.

In answer to a question, Saban indicated it is very unlikely that freshman tailback Dee Hart will be able to play this season. He had surgery for an ACL in the summer. Saban said the medical staff makes the decisions on how much a player can do, but that if it was in November before he could begin to practice it might not be practical to play Hart.

He said there is no update on wide receiver Duron Carter, a junior college transfer. He said there is no reason to think there are issues, but that grades have to be posted and transcript obtained.

The athletics department announced that single game tickets remain for three 2011 University of Alabama home football games – Kent State ($55 each), Vanderbilt ($65 each) and Georgia Southern ($55 each).  There is no limit on the number of tickets each person may purchase for any of the games.

Tickets were made available from sections not utilized by visiting teams.  

Additionally, packages located in the South End Zone Field Suite area are currently available for the games against Kent State, Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Tennessee.  The Field Suite is an upscale area of the stadium, which includes a food amenity.  For more information on Field Suite ticket availability please call (205) 348-2262.

  Regular tickets for the Kent State, Vanderbilt and Georgia Southern contests may be ordered online at  Fans may also call (205) 348-2262, or toll free at 1-877-TIDETIX.  The Athletic Ticket Office in Coleman Coliseum is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Extended hours for phone orders are through 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.

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