Saban Expecting Competitive A-Day

There's a lot on the line for Alabama players in Saturday's A-Day Game, notably the opportunity to show what they can do in a game-like situation. And if the competition is not enough motivation, Alabama Coach Nick Saban has more.

When Alabama plays the spring game, there's a tangible reward on the line. Will it be steak or will it be beans and weenies?

Alabama will conclude spring practice with the A-Day Game at 1 p.m. CDT Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium. There is no admission charge, and Saban hopes for a large crowd, which also has a potential reward for the program since a large number of prospects will be on hand.

And though practice ends Saturday, the team will be back together Monday night for dinner. Two dinners, actually. On one side of the dining hall, with china and silverware and white linen tablecloths with roses in the centerpiece, players of the winning team will be waited on and served steak. On the other side, the losing team will line up and fill paper plates from a pot of beans and weenies. They will have paper towels for Napkins and plastic forks.

Saban expects a competitive game.

Following Thursday's polish up in shorts and helmets, Saban said, "It was our goal this week to finish spring practice and continue to improve. I was certainly encouraged today that the energy and intensity and enthusiasm was better. A lot of reps out there today, even though this was our third practice in shorts and helmets. I really do think that we've made a lot of progress this spring with a lot of players. Obviously we're not satisfied with where we are."

He said he views the A-Day Game "a little bit like it's an exhbition game for our players and our team. It's an opportunity for them to go out and play a game-like circumstance, a game-like situation, and it's really your first opportunity as an individual, as a unit, or as a team, to really create an identity for who you are and how you play, how you compete, the kind of effort you give, the kind of toughness you play with, the kind of discipline you have to execute. The ability to focus on the next play regardless of what happened on the last play.

"Those things are important, I think, in being able to compete through the tough circumstances and adversity that we have in our league and the tough teams and tough places to play.

"This is important for us. I think it's important for us to have great support, as game-like as we can get it. With a lot of folks there that show a lot of interest and passion for this team, this particular team."

He pointed out that the format would have the first offense going against the first defense and the second offense playing against the second defense "so that it makes a very, very competitive game.

"That's how we want it to be."

And he wants that to be part of the attraction that brings out a big crowd.

He noted the weather forecast is for "a beautiful day."

Saban said, "For seven years, we've had a great response to A-Day. It's a great traditional day here for a lot of folks to come back here and a lot of activities for former players, A-Club folks, golf outings. A lot of fan interest and a lot of fan support.

"We'll have a ton of people here that are guys we're looking at for the future, in terms of recruits, that can be very much impressed by the energy, enthusiasm and passion that we show in this game. And I think it's a tradition and something that we're very proud of and something that has helped the program tremendously.

"I hope that we continue to show that kind of support for our team and the program. I think it's very, very beneficial."

As for his part in Monday's banquet, Saban said, "As the commissioner..."

Meaning, of course, that he always eats steak.

"The players were on me the other day saying, 'You have to choose a team,' because they get tired of me over there eating steak and not being on a team."

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