Alabama's football team returned to the practice field Tuesday after an 11-day interruption for The University's spring break. The workout was in shorts. A full gear "tough" practice is scheduled for Thursday, and the A-Day Game to conclude spring training is set for 1:30 p.m. CST Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The 15 days of spring football practice are expected to accomplish a number of things, and among the most important is finding replacements for graduated players. And among those, the most important is quarterback. Brodie Croyle has completed his record-breaking career. John Parker Wilson, an upcoming sophomore, is the leader for the job, ahead of senior Marc Guillon and freshman Jimmy Barnes.
Following Bama's return to the practice field, Quarterbacks Coach Dave Rader said, "We have had improvement (at the quarterback position) every day but one this spring. But today we were a little sluggish. We looked like we hadn't thrown in over a week."
But that was physical. Rader was pleased with the mental.
"Retention was good," he said. "That was encouraging. The minuses were not mental. And we threw a lot at them. I'm very upbeat about that."
Rader said, "They have handled all the looks. We haven't held anything back. I have confidence in all three. And their off-the-field habits habits have been good. All three have done well."
The coach said, "John Parker should have a lot of confidence. He can be the quarterback of this team. He has progressed a little every day; some days more than others. He should be feeling good about what he can do with our system and in our system. John Parker has shown he can move this unit. He can make plays."
Rader said, "The guys who play with John Parker should have confidence in him, too. He has shown he can do it."
One important quality for any quarterback, Rader said, "is the ability to bounce back from a bad play and move on to the next play and make it. He (Wilson) has that."
Rader said that every coach would like to have more practice opportunities. "But this game is about competition. You practice as hard as you can, get to be as good as you can, and then go out and play. We'll be ready and he'll be ready when the time comes."
Rader said that in Saturday's A-Day Game, "We're going to let them just play. We're going to do the things we've been working on, but we want them to play and have fun. And then we'll all walk off the field together and start getting ready for the Warriors."
Alabama opens the 2006 season on September 2 hosting Hawaii in Bryant-Denny Stadium.