Alabama Coach Nick Saban said, “I don't like that we're going to have one practice then have spring break, but when Easter falls in there, we have to give players a little bit of time and respect the holiday.”
Otherwise, Saban said during Wednesday’s Pro Day activities, “I’m looking forward to Friday. We've had a really good off-season with this group. I'm really excited about this team. They seem to have a great attitude, they've worked really hard, and [they’sve] got a pretty good leadership group. I'm excited about it.
“I know we've got a lot of holes to fill, especially on offense. But we also have a lot of veteran players who have played a lot of football here that are going to get the opportunity to maybe take advantage of having a greater role on the team."
Following Friday’s workout, the Tide will return to the practice field on March 23 for its second practice. Spring football concludes with the A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium at 2 p.m. CDT on Saturday, April 18, the only practice open to the public.
Saban wasn’t kidding about a lot of holes on offense, at least from the standpoint of returning starters. Bama ordinarily lists 12 starting positions on offense (obviously, just using 11 at a time) and of those the only returning starters are left tackle Cam Robinson and center Ryan Kelly.
Defense is in better shape, but the Tide must find replacements for two starting linebackers and both safeties.
The most important position is quarterback, and for the second consecutive year Bama is looking for a new starter. A year ago, Blake Sims was the leader coming out of spring practice and he held on to become the starter and the MVP of the Southeastern Conference Championship Game as Alabama went 12-2 and won the SEC title and advanced to the first College Football Playoff.
Following his Pro Day workout, Sims talked about the upcoming quarterback battle. “They seem ready,” he said of the team. “Offensive line, the wide receivers, and the quarterbacks, and the running backs, they seem ready. They're ready to try and go get a national championship. I told them 'Go get it, man. It's all on you. However the season goes, it's all on how you play and how you try to be a leader and stuff.'
“We've got five great quarterbacks that have the potential to win games for the Crimson Tide. I think if they work very hard, listen to what Coach Saban says, and do exactly what he says, we'll win a lot of games.”
Sims was asked specifically about Jake Coker, the man he beat out for the job last season.
“[He] wants to be the best. Wants to be the best that he can be. He was one play away from getting into the game, and when his opportunity hits, he's going to take full advantage.”
Other players who have finished their time at Bama discussed some of the men who will be working to win starting jobs.
DeAndrew White on wide receivers:
Arie Kouandjio on offensive linemen:
“There are plenty of offensive lineman. We’ve got Bradley Bozeman, Josh Casher, Cam (Robinson), of course, who did a great job last year. Ryan Kelly, who did a great job last year and looks like a house right now. He’s one of the most explosive guys I know.
“He’s going to be all right. He got the playbook down toward the end of the year, so I think you’ll see big things from Reuben this year.”
Landon Collins on the secondary:
“Hootie Jones is an outstanding player. He’s willing to learn. Looking forward to coming out and being the best player he can be. It’s just something that’s in his heart.”