Alabama has been pretty much away from football since the Crimson Tide won the Southeastern Conference Championship Game against Missouri 10 days ago. The players (along with all other University students) had final examinations last week, during which players did strength and conditioning workouts as they could, and then had a long weekend break that allowed many of them to go home.
Also since that last game, the Crimson Tide was awarded the number one seed in the inaugural College Football Playoff. On Tuesday the Tide had a two-hour workout in shells in the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility.
Although this is technically the beginning of preparation for the semifinal game against Ohio State on Jan. 1 in the Sugar Bowl, in keeping with Coach Nick Saban’s process, it was one of “a couple or three” days that will be “sort of like camp, fundamental type things to really work on fundamentals and techniques, get the guys back in a little bit of shape.
“We need to get everybody back in the kind of condition to sustain in the game. These first three days will pretty much be that, then we'll get a little more into the gameplan and preparation for the last four practices that we have before we take a little break for Christmas.”
Tuesday was the first of seven bowl practices before Christmas and 13 prior to the Sugar Bowl.
“It was really good to get the players back today and get back to practicing,” Saban said.
Offensive tackle Grant Hill missed the practice with illness and three players coming from the west – Saban confirmed one was offensive tackle Cam Robinson and the other two may have been fellow Monroe, La., natives Cam Sims and Hootie Jones – didn’t get there until the second half of practice because of a traffic jam in Mississippi.
Saban said, “This is really kind of a new season for us, a new opportunity. Something the team can do and what does everybody want the legacy of this team to be. Everybody should have the right mind-set to commit to a lot of hard work and preparation and (do) what we need to do to get fundamentally back to get to where we need to be play the kind of techniques and play winning football at their position. In these kind of circumstances, it's really important to eliminate clutter, distractions, to focus on what we need to do to play your best, be your best, do a good job in preparation for the game.”
A trait of the Crimson Tide this season has been that it has been a tough team when a good finish was necessary.
Saban said, “It says something about their competitive character. We would like to play with a tremendous amount of consistency all the time so that we don't get in those situations. Our team has always played the next play, focused on the next play, not getting frustrated in a game. I think that's important in being a good competitor. I think that speaks a lot to their competitive character to overcome adversity, make plays when they need to make them. And our team has been able to do that all year long.”
An interesting aspect of practice was the appearance of running back Bo Scarbrough. Scarbrough was a 2014 signee who was not eligible for the fall semester. He has completed his eligibility requirements and is now able to practice in Tuscaloosa. He cannot play in a game until next fall.