Alabama Football Back To Practice

In the wake of the death of their former athletics director, distracted Alabama players might not feel like practicing; distraught Crimson Tide coaches might not be enthusiastic about coaching. Pragmatic Mal Moore would be the first to say, "You have to do it."



Two days after Mal Moore died of pulmonary disease, Alabama Coach Nick Saban will have his football team back on the practice field Monday. The Crimson Tide had four days of practice in mid-March and then was off for The University's spring break. Eleven practices, including scrimmages Saturday, April 6 and April 13 and the A-Day Game on April 20, remain.

The work of spring practice will continue beginning Saturday. That work, as Saban has pointed out on numerous occasions, is to make each player better, thus making the team better. Though it seems like a long time until the 2013 season-opener on Aug. 31 against Virginia Tech at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, no one in the Bama camp believes a day can be wasted.

Nothing has changed over spring break insofar as the areas of most interest to those who follow Bama football. It starts with the offensive line, which lost three outstanding players. Saban has talked about that frequently, but comes back to the theme of making all players better during the spring.

Alabama has a veteran quarterback, which offers the possibility of an expanded offense. But how could it be expanded? The balance of the offense the past few years has been almost perfect. Last year Alabama finished the season with 3,185 yards rushing (227.5 yards per game) and 3,052 yards passing (218 yards per game).

Bama did have more rushing plays, 570, to passing plays, 328, so perhaps the passing game could be expanded. The Tide certainly has proven wide receivers in Amari Cooper, Kevion Norwood, Christion Jones, Kenny Bell, and DeAndrew White. Additionally, Chris Black (who like Bell and White is returning from injury) had drawn rave reviews.

Perhaps, though, expansion of the offense would be based around a change in other potential receivers.

The tailbacks had a few, Eddie Lacy 22 catches, T.J. Yeldon 11.

Graduated tight end Michael Williams had 24 receptions as a senior, and H-back Kelly Johnson, also graduated, five catches. But Williams averaged only 7.6 yards per catch, Johnson only 7.8.

Perhaps it will be that the tight ends and H-backs become more of a threat in the passing game.

That is said without knowing who is ahead at those positions four practices into spring work, much less who will be at those spots against Virginia Tech and beyond.

At H-back, most expect Jalston Fowler to get the nod. A former tailback, Fowler earned praise primarily for his blocking last year, but those who have seen him run from his old tailback spot can only dream of what it would be like to see "The Beast" in the open field with a short pass.

Brian Vogler was the back-up to Williams last year. The 6-7, 258-pound upcoming junior had only two catches in 2012, one for 16 yards and one for 5 yards.

Saban likes to have a lot of tight end types in his offense, sometimes using two on the line and one at H-back. Others in contention for these jobs include sophomore Malcolm Faciane, redshirt freshman Kurt Freitag, junior Harrison Jones (Barrett's brother), soph Corey McCarron (AJ's brother), and true freshman O.J. Howard, an early enrollee.

For the final 14 days of the spring, the goal will not be to determine which men win the jobs. The aim is to make them all better.

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