"I feel better about our football team now for sure than I did the first day of winter workouts, and even better than I did on day one of practice," Shula said.
With three days in pads any headway on the depth chart won't be worth much before the Tide's first full-blow scrimmage a week from Saturday, but the fact that some leadership has emerged encouraged Shula.
"Guys like Ramzee Robinson, Juwan Simpson, Jeremy Clark. Those three guys stand out," Shula said Friday after a chilly end to a shorts and shoulder pads practice. "Le'Ron McClain, Ken Darby has but he's been hurt so he hasn't been out there as much to do it. I'll tell you another guy that's been surprising who hasn't played as much as the guys I mentioned is Dominic Lee. He's done a really nice job this off-season with the workouts and now in practice."
(Lee, by the way, is featured in the March issue of ‘BAMA Magazine, on newsstands now.)
"Seniors are doing a good job of showing a lot of leadership and they are starting to take a little ownership," Shula said. "Tomorrow it's real important for us to find out about some of these young guys on defense. They're doing a lot of things now but when you put the ball down and take everybody else off the field you have to go tackle a guy. We've got to find out who can do all that."
Tomorrow Alabama will have a full pads practice with 15-25 minutes of live tackling at the end.
"We'll have a normal practice, we'll be in full gear, and towards the end we'll do some tackling, some live tackling, so we didn't want to go three days in a row with so physical of hitting," he said.
Tomorrow is also junior day, when approximately 200 high school juniors will attend practice and meetings to familiarize themselves with the UA coaches and campus.
"It will be an introduction of us as a staff and where our coaches recruit certain area and have guys meet coaches by position, too," Shula said.
(UA media relations personnel admonished media at Friday's practice not to photograph or interview any of the juniors on campus.)
Chris Harris hobbled off the field with a strained oblique muscle at the end of practice. Shula said Harris might not be able to participate on Saturday.
"We are a little bit thin there right now," Shula said. "You want to see guys come out here and practice well on a consistent basis. That's what some of the younger guys have to do."
Shula also said fumbled snaps were an annoyance Friday.
"We've had some fumbled snaps and we have to get that taken care of," he said. "I feel comfortable we'll be able to do that.
"We had the ball on the ground with some fumbled snaps in the early drills and on a couple of playoffs. We were the best team in the league on giveaways last year. You want to keep that."