Pagan Optimistic In Early Practices

Alabama football players, coaches, and fans could all look back on last year's national championship season with a good feeling. But there is one thing that Crimson Tide defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan admits that he doesn't miss: playing against D.J. Fluker, who was a first round NFL draft choice following his junior season at offensive tackle for Bama.

Alabama defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan and his teammates are in their sixth day of practice and first day in which Bama was to have two workouts. Following the morning practice in full gear, Pagen said that working against the Crimson Tide offensive line was different than it was last year.

"There were three guys (on the 2012 national championship team) who have gone on to the NFL," Pagen said. Tackle D.J. Fluker and guard Chance Warmack were first round selections and center Barrett Jones went in the second round.

"This year, a lot of guys have to step up and take on new roles," Pagan said of the offensive line. "I guess it's within them to find that bond and come together as a unit."

Following Wednesday's two-a-day practice, the Tide will hold a single workout on Thursday followed by the second two-a-day practice on Friday with the first scrimmage slated for practice No. 11 on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. All practices are closed to the public.

More important from the Pagan perspective is how the defensive line comes along, and specifically himself. Pagan is an upcoming junior who played in all 14 Bama games last season in a back-up role. He's a 6-4, 298-pound native of Asheville, N.C. He doesn't intend to be 298 pounds when Alabama opens the season against Virginia Tech in the Georgia Dome on Aug. 31.

"My goal weight is about 290," he said. He said getting down to that weight "would definitely help me be more agile and help me be more quick, more fast. Dropping that weight would be a good thing."

And he said he will. "Definitely," he said. "My self-discipline – I'm going to do it. I take pride in it."

Pagan said that fall camp has been "interesting." He said, "We've had some pretty good practices and I'm thinking we're going to be ready for the season."

One interesting aspect was Pagan appearing to be injured in last Sunday's open practice at Bryant-Denny Stadium. "I landed on my knee the wrong way, but it's nothing that I haven't dealt with before," Pagan said. "I'm back now. I'm fine. I'm not really injury-prone. It's not really that big a deal to me."

Pagan said that in fall camp he has "been working on trying to get to the ball a lot better, trying to discipline myself to make weight, and just work on small things as far as technique."

He said the defensive line as a group is making progress. "We're getting there," he said. "We've got some things that we've got to work out, but I think we're getting there."

Although much conversation has been about the difficulty of dealing with the hurry up offenses, Pagan said there doesn't seem to be a concern in fall camp. He said the team is working on it, "preparing for all that fast stuff. It's nothing we haven't seen, so we'll be all right."

Pagan knows that people – including Coach Nick Saban – have talked about the Alabama front needing to have a more effective pass rush. He said, "Listening to people doubting our pass rush just kind of motivates us to be better pass rushers. And I feel like with the addition of the freshmen that we got in, that really helped that aspect of our game."

He said the newcomers are "really smart, they're fast, they're big. They are hard working. I think they're going to be good additions to the team. They look really good."

Pagan can share his memory of the most difficult aspect of transitioning from high school to college football. He said the hardest part of the transition is "being focused and being serious. So much is thrown at you at one time, it's just kind of hard on you to stay focused."

Pagan was asked about some of his teammates:

Defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson:

"Dalvin's another one of those guys that's really quick and fast and strong, so with the addition of him in our pass rush is definitely going to make offenses recognize that we do have pass rushers."

What are the differences between Brandon Ivory, one of the leaders for the starting job at nose tackle, and Jesse Williams, last year's nose tackle?

"They're both really good players. Jesse was a little faster and could play a couple more rounds. But Ivory has definitely lost some weight and he's looking the same. He's playing more reps, he's getting to the quarterbacks. He's moving, and he's looking really good.

And nose tackle Darren Lake?

"He's doing well also. He's real strong. He benches 585. He's strong. He's getting to the quarterback as well."

How much do you bench?


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