New Tide Team Has First Spring Work

Been there, done that. The 2009 Alabama football team won the national championship. In 2010, Bama fell off to a 10-3 record. Now Alabama is following up the 2011 national championship, and Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban wants his team to be sure to realize it is not the national championship team.

On Friday, the Alabama football team started the spring practice segment of the preparation for the 2012 season.

Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban said, "I think it's really important that we as a team understand that this is not the team that won the national championship. It's very, very important that this team dedicates itself and commits itself to creating an identity of its own.

"You've never arrived so you certainly can't feel satisfied or feel entitled.

"I hope this team is challenged and hungry in terms what they want to accomplish and what they want to do."

Alabama will have 14 more practices, and in something of an unusual schedule the second practice will come after The University's spring break when Bama players report back on March 19.

The final practice will be the A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, April 14. There is no charge for attendance and the game will be regionally telecast by CSS with kickoff at 2 p.m CDT.

Following the two-hour workout in shorts and helmets (one of two practices mandated to be shorts and helmets), Saban said, "I was really very much pleased with the way that the first practice went. There was really a lot of carryover with a lot of the guys that are returning. Some of the younger guys that haven't played as much that have been in the program, I think the bowl practice really helped those guys because they're a lot further along now.

"We obviously have a lot of opportunities for a lot of people out there," Saban said. "And I think that every player needs to understand that your best opportunity to advance as a football player is in spring practice, because basically everything that we're doing in spring practice is about what we do. So you have the best opportunity to learn fundamentally, mentally.

"It seemed like there was enough of a combination of youth and experience that that was the case out there today."

Some of it was real young. There are eight players who signed this year and entered The University in January. They were going through their first Alabama football practices.

They are cornerbacks Deion Belue and Travell Dixon, wide receivers Chris Black and Amari Cooper, outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, inside linebacker Dillon Lee, nose tackle Alphonse Taylor, and running back T.J. Yeldon.

"I think Deion Belue has really done really well and had a good day today," said Saban, who works with cornerbacks in practice. "He learns football easily."

He added that he had been encouraged by some of the younger guys who mght be able to make contributions in the 2012 season. When asked specifically about what was expected of Yeldon, however, Saban shared the general philosophy of what is expected of the young players.

"With all the young guys, I don't like to put expectations on them," Saban said. "There's enough expectations that's already been created for the reputation that they have. What we would like for him to do is focus on what he needs to do to be a complete player as his position."

Prior to the start of drills, Saban had announced that two players who had undergone off-season surgery would not take part in full speed work. They are tailback Eddie Lacy (turf toe) and offensive tackle Arie Kouandjio (knees). He said that offensive guard Chance Warmack was limited on Friday because of a quad strain suffered in the off-season program. "A couple of guys had stuff like that," the coach said. "All those guys should be feeling better and ready to go when they get back."

Alabama has two new coaches this spring. Doug Nussmeier came from Washington and replaced Jim McElwain as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. McElwain is the new head coach at Colorado State. Lance Thompson has returned to Alabama (for the third time) as outside linebackers coach. He came from Tennessee and replaced Sal Sunseri, who went to Tennessee as defensive coordinator.

"I was pleased with the new coaches and how they fit in," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said on Friday. "There really wasn't an issue or a problem and things went really well for the first time around."

The Tide returns four starters on the defensive side of the football with defensive linemen Damion Square and Jesse Williams along with linebacker Nico Johnson, and safety Robert Lester. The Alabama defense will also be bolstered by 2010 starting cornerback Dee Milliner (who started six games in nickel situations last year) and linebacker C.J. Mosley, who has started nine games in nickel situations over the past two years.

The UA offense returns four starters along the offensive line, including Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones, who worked a center on Friday, guard Chance Warmack, tackle D.J. Fluker, and guard Anthony Steen. AJ McCarrron returns for his second year as the starting quarterback with tight end Michael Williams returning for his third year as the starter at tight end.

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