Just ahead for Alabama is the second and final scrimmage of the pre-season, the Crimson Tide going to Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. Until then, there are Thursday and Friday practices, and Bama Coach Nick Saban wants to see improvement.
Saban recognized the change in practice Wednesday with the first day of school. “Obviously, it was a different ball game for all of us,” he said. “It’s really why the players come here – to get an education. I know many of them were excited about getting back in class and going to school.”
The Tide coach did not add “but.” He did, however, send a message. “Our focus this week is to improve,” Saban said. “How much you improve between the first scrimmage (last Saturday) and the second scrimmage goes a long ways into saying who and what your role in this team is going to be.”
He added that he and his coaching staff “have to make some decisions about who we’re going to coach and who we’re going to get ready to play.”
Following the 16th of 28 pre-season practices, Saban said, “We've tried to expose our players to as many things as we can this week in terms of game situations. I think the scrimmage will be more game-like in terms of the types of things that we try to do.”
The Tide coach undoubtedly expects to see better than he saw Wednesday. Saban said, “I felt like there were too many self-imposed limitations out there today in practice and I don't think it was one of our better practices even though up to this point I've been very pleased with the way the work has been going and the players have been improving. We've got lots of work to do.”
Saban gave a partial injury report, and added that he did not intend to discuss every player who happens to be in a black jersey at practice. A black jersey means “no contact,” and there is a wide range of how much players in black can participate.
He said that quarterback Jacob Coker was back at practice, and that the surgery on his toe had been successful, but added that Coker has been out this week and is still day-to-day.
Saban said, “Some other players that got back to practicing today _ some of the injured guys that were here for rehab during camp. (Tailback) Kenyan Drake is recovering and did a nice job in practice today in a black jersey. (Offensive tackle Cameron Robinson was in a black jersey only because he sprained his shoulder a little bit or something.
“Parker Barrineau (senior receiver) cut his toe in an incident in the shower or the bathroom, some kind of way, hit it on a door or the door fell on it or closed on it or something and actually required surgery to sew it back up. This is something that'll probably take at least a week or so for him to recover from. (Receiver) Chris Black is practicing in a black jersey.
Alabama opens the season Sept. 5 against Wisconsin in the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Saban said, “This is the shortest camp we've had, only being two weeks long. We're playing later, school started earlier. Most of the time it lasts about three weeks. I felt like we had a good camp but I think the players really have to do a good job of transitioning into how they need to practice when they go to school. They don't spend all their time here. They're not in meetings a lot. When they come here they really need to re-center and refocus so we can get the work done that we need to get done.”