Avery Johnson, a self-proclaimed football fan, made an appearance at Alabama football practice as part of his first day on the job Wednesday. Following he practice, Alabama Coach Nick Saban was asked about the new addition to the Bama coaching staff.
Saban said, “Avery Johnson's a part of our family here now, and we want to do everything we can to help him be successful. We have a tremendous amount of respect for what he's been able to accomplish and what he's been able to do. We've always been a real team player here in terms of the relationships that we try to have with the other sports.
“We want to be good in everything here, and we want to help Avery in every way that we can. The players have a lot of respect for someone who's played in the NBA and coached in the NBA.”
And then Saban got personal.
“I told him that he's going to be on my Noontime Basketball League, but I'm going to play the point and he's going to have to play the two guard. He's not going to control that because I'm the commissioner of the league.
“Other than that, I think we're all set with Avery.”
Saban sometimes sends a barb towards reporters before answering questions, but oft-times those shots are delivered with good humor. Such was the case Wednesday when a relatively new beat writer asked what review of the tapes of last Friday’s scrimmage might have revealed to Saban. Other than the immediate post-scrimmage observations, Wednesday was the first time the Tide coach could be questioned about the pluses and minuses of that first scrimmage.
Saban said, “You know, we’ve practiced twice since the scrimmage so I’m kind of one-day-at-a-time and be where your feet are. You’re new here, you haven’t heard all those speeches. This is Wednesday, that was Saturday (actually Friday); that’s like ancient history. I’m sort of ‘be where your feet are’ which means (as he stomps his feet) we’re right here today, so this is what we’re focused on. We know what we have to do today, what we did today, what we’re emphasizing today. We’ll watch that film and then we’re going to decide what we need to do Friday, try to get them better, and then we’re going to watch it on Friday and work on some stuff.”
And then he answered the question to some extent. He said, “We had some guys on defense, Reggie Ragland did some really good stuff. I think the front seven on defense had some pretty good production, they played pretty well for the most part. I think we’ve got a long way to go in the secondary. I talked about the four guys on the offensive line, I thought they showed progress and improvement and played well in the scrimmage. I think all the quarterbacks at some point in the scrimmage showed their inexperience, but I also think that each one of them showed at some point in the scrimmage that they have ability and capability to do things well. Areas we needed to improve in the passing game were mostly attention to detail at the receiver position as well as the quarterbacks and the receivers getting in sync. Derrick Henry had a really good day. Kenyan Drake had a really good day. But other than that, I can’t even remember.”
As an illustration, Saban said, “We had an Easter egg hunt on Sunday and I can’t remember where I hid all the eggs. But you know the problem at my house, I have seven little kids and little Ami (granddaughter Amelie), so I have to hide the eggs so Ami finds the most eggs.”
Saban also announced some spring experiments and jabbed at reporters who have only a few minutes to view each practice.
“We move guys around in the spring,” he said. “I know you guys go out there and take attendance every day like first-grade teachers, make sure everybody's in the right seat and all that.
“We're going to spend a few days with Eddie Jackson playing safety. We'll spend a few days with Deionte Thompson playing receiver, just to take a look and see and maybe when those three days are up, we might experiment with some other players but nothing that we're really considering at this moment.”
Alabama’s A-Day Game is at 2 p.m. CDT Saturday, April 18, at Bryant-Denny Stadium.