"We shortened practice today, working in shorts and shoulder pads," Tide Head Coach Mike Shula said following Friday's workout. "We worked in ‘plus territory' (20 yards and in). We tried to get the players off the field a little early, so they'll be fresher for tomorrow."
The University of Alabama football team crossed the halfway point in spring drills Friday in Tuscaloosa, completing No. 8 of fifteen allowed practices. The team worked out in shorts and shoulder pads for approximately an hour and 15 minutes at Thomas-Drew Field.
Every day of spring drills can be key, with student assistants filming the action and the assistant coaches going back over the tape to make sure nothing was missed. But Shula especially emphasized the importance of tomorrow's scrimmage.
He explained, "We talked to our players about tomorrow being another step. ‘Every day you're evaluated on everything that you do.' Tomorrow there will be even more emphasis on that. As we all know, we're looking for guys that are dependable and can make plays. Hopefully we'll see some guys do that tomorrow."
The practice session will begin at 9:30 a.m. (CT) at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. The actual scrimmage work will start at approximately 10 a.m. Saturday scrimmages are open to the public.
Shula talked about what fans will see.
"We'll be ‘live' tomorrow, though the quarterbacks won't be. We'll start the drives on the 30 or 40 (yardlines). The first group will go 10 plays, and if they're inside the red zone we'll continue the drive and possibly kick a field goal. Then the second team will go and do the same thing."
Bama's reduced numbers have forced the Tide coaches to adjust.
"We don't have three groups at all positions, so what we're going to do is after the 2s go, we'll mix in some 7-on-7," Shula related. "We've got more depth at the perimeter positions (wide receiver and defensive back) than we do on the offensive and defensive line. That way the (linemen) will get a little bit of a break."
The scrimmage will also include work on the punting game. "Then we'll go back to the 1s and 2s," Shula said. "We'll do some special teams work, then come back with 7-on-7. Then we'll have some more 1s and 2s work.
"I don't know how long it'll go. We'll have to get a feeling as we go out there."
The Tide roster is smaller than normal, and several key players are recovering from injury. That's forced the Bama coaches to spend more time with walk-ons than might otherwise be the case. But the former NFL assistant doesn't seem to mind.
"The thing for me that's been exciting to see is the growth (of athletes)," Shula revealed. "That is bigger (in college) than what I'm used to. Not that guys don't get better from their rookie year (in the pros), but you can see guys in the course of a week improve. Kyle Tatum was playing defensive tackle three weeks ago. Hopefully we'll continue to see that, with guys getting more confidence."
Asked to assess the defensive tackle position, Shula praised senior Anthony Bryant.
"At any time it seems like he could be in your backfield right now. We'd like to see more consistency, more plays like that. Jeremy Clark has been getting consistently better. Those two guys and Dominic Lee, who just got hurt, were the (main) guys. We need some other players to step up, too. The last couple of days J.P. Adams has gotten better."
- Shula said quarterback Marc Guillon had a good day of practice, but noted that his job was easier with the team in shorts and shoulder pads and the defensive blitzing limited.
- Bama's No. 1 and No. 2 quarterbacks will not take part in full-squad work. The Tide coaches are determined to protect both Brodie Croyle and Spencer Pennington as they recover from shoulder surgery.
- Last season's leading tackler, DeMeco Ryans, missed Friday's practice with a sprained ankle. The coaches will consult with the trainers before deciding if Ryans will take part in tomorrow's scrimmage.
- Reserve defensive end Keith Saunders is being held out of contact work as they doctors diagnose a problem with his neck. More tests are scheduled.
- Former Minor League Baseball player Scoop McDowell has missed the past few practice sessions with permission of the Tide coaches. Shula said only that if there is an announcement to be made, they would pass it along quickly.
- Alabama entered spring drills with no proven long-snapper on the squad. Shula said that they would like to decide on one quickly, but indicated that all candidates were "in a pool," and that the decision may have to wait until fall.
- Shula singled out redshirt freshman offensive tackle Chris Capps as having "done some good things the last couple of days."