Alabama Coach Mike Shula had his team out for two and a half hours in shorts and helmets in what was the first of 28 scheduled practices before the season-opener against Hawaii at 6 p.m. CDT on Saturday, September 2.
"It was good to be back on the field," Shula said. "Our players were excited about it even though it was a hot practice. The guys fought through it and I think that we are in good shape as a football team as long as they work hard."
Bama will be back on the field in shorts and helmets Wednesday, add shoulder pads on Thursday and Friday, and be in full gear Saturday. The first of five alternate days two-a-day practices will be Sunday and the first scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium will be at 2 p.m. Monday. The only practices open to the public at the Monday and the Saturday, August 19, scrimmages.
Because newcomers now arrive on campus in the summer and participate in off-season workouts with their new teammates, there is no longer the two or three days of practices with just new men. And that ordinarily makes it more difficult to pick out the newcomers in a squad of 105. But there were a handful who stood out to Shula Tuesday.
The Bama coach mentioned safety Justin Woodall both for his work on defense and on special teams. Shula also pointed out cornerback Javier Arenas, who had two interceptions. Arenas also worked after practice catching punts.
He said highly-regarded offensive tackle Andre Smith "showed some good athleticism. He was just slow reacting sometiomes."
Shula said, "It's too early to tell in terms of playing, but all-in-all they looked pretty good today. It was okay for a first day, but we've got to get a lot better."
Shula also pointed to some veterans as having a good first practice, naming running backs Kenneth Darby and Jimmy Johns, tight end Travis McCall, linebackers Prince Hall and Juwan Simpson, and defensive end Keith Saunders.
He said that junior wide receivers D.J. Hall and Keith Brown "have pretty much started since they were freshmen and need to be leaders." He added that Matt Caddell, another junior wide receiver, had a good practice.
Although it's hard to judge line positions until the gear goes on and the contact begins, Shula said that Ezekial Knight looked good. "He had a good spring and we're going to give him every opportunity to help because of his skills."
Shula said defensive back Ramzee Robinson "has been a good leader for our defense. We need to find more leaders. It doesn't have to be a verbal guy. DeMeco Ryans was a quiet guy, but he showed up as a leader."
The Tide coach said that Bama is in better shape insofar as numbers in the offensive line, but noted there is still a lack of experience. He said he is looking for more competition, particularly at the tackle spots.
Shula said, "You can spot the guys who worked hard all summer. They were the ones not breathing as hard."
He said wide receiver Nikita Stover was affected early by his asthma. And the coach noted that Keith Brown got tired "because he was getting more reps than anyone else" at wide receiver.
Shula said the medical and conditioning staffs are taking extra precautions to make sure players are properly hydrated before and after practice in the hot weather.