Tide Still with Lots to Learn

Wednesday was Bama's third spring practice and its first in full pads, but rather than crashing into one another at high speeds, Alabama football players are mostly still learning how to practice at the tempo Head Coach Nick Saban wants without making themselves susceptible to injury.

"It's a physical, tough practice but everybody needs to learn how to practice, too, because there's a tempo that everybody practices with," Saban told reporters in the Naylor Stone media suite after the Tide's first day in full pads. "When one guy doesn't know how to practice it messes it up for everybody."

Most injuries occur when players hit the ground, Saban said. "We want to practice with safety but we want to be physical, tough and intense in what we do. Everybody's got to learn how to stay up and play on their feet. Even in something as simple as the receivers and the DBs. We had two guys get up slowly today and both of them were diving for a ball. Both of them were okay but those are the kinds of situations that create problems relative to injuries."

Saban also made official the rumored departure of Andy Davis from the team for "personal reasons" after Wednesday's practice. Davis was a defensive back from Briarwood Christian in Birmingham who signed with Alabama last season and redshirted. Davis is expected to remain in school at Alabama, Saban said.

Saban said Wednesday's practice was "a little better" in terms of intensity level. "Now we have practice and school. It was a little bit tough yesterday in getting them focused again after having two days off but I was really encouraged today that we had a little better intensity and sense of urgency about what we're doing."

Saban said there were "three or four" receivers who were making good plays on a consistent basis, that quarterback John Parker Wilson "has done a pretty good job in his decision making," and that the offensive line said their knowledge and experience was helping them be consistent.

"Everything is fast tempo," said senior wide receiver DJ Hall. "We are further along at this time and the guys have a different mindset of what we want to do. We are going to do whatever it takes."

Junior tight end Travis McCall said the practices have been intense but the team is learning the new systems and improving.

"Everything is a learning process and once you do it over and over again it gets easier," said McCall. "Everyone wants to improve and get better."

"Defensively, we've got a lot to learn relative to how we're going to do things and how we're going to get the togetherness and execution that we need to have to be a good team," Saban said. "Special teams is a work in progress."

Saban also said there weren't any injuries that were significant so far that he could think of through the first three days.

On the position moving front, Brian Motley has moved to defensive line in order to get another body on that depth-poor side of the ball, and B.J. Stabler has been working at right offensive tackle in the absence of Chris Capps, who is out of contact for the spring.

"We don't have any defensive linemen," Saban said when asked about Motley, "and he's actually done a pretty good job. There were a few candidates on the team that we could put at the defensive line to get through the spring. He was one of the most athletic guys. He was one of the guys that was a little down on the dept chart and we said we'd try him on defense and actually he's shown some promise and maybe has a chance to develop into a guy who can add some depth at that position. But the front seven players on defense is really thin personnel wise, numbers."


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