Alabama players were coached by Nick Saban and his staff, but watched by many, many more coaches Friday and Saturday as The University hosted its annual spring coaching clinic. The Crimson Tide will be off from practice until Tuesday. Bama will conclude practice in three weeks with the A-Day Game in Bryant-Denny Stadium with kickoff at 1 p.m. CDT April 21.
Saban said he was pleased with the coaching clinic, which included presentations by Saban and members of his staff and also by guest clinicians Philadelphia Eagles defensive line coach Pete Jenkins and Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio, former Crimson Tide star linebacker Cornelius Bennett, a few high school coaches, and former Alabama Coach Gene
Stallings. "I thought our clinic this weekend was very positive," Saban said. "It gave us a great opportunity as a staff to meet the coaches in the state of Alabama, to see some of the coaches we knew, build on the relationships we had and give them some University of Alabama hospitality.
"We have over 50 players on our team that were developed by, motivated by and inspired by coaches from the state of Alabama and we appreciate that. The better the high school football is in this state, the better prospects we have and the better chance we have to be successful."
Saban made particular note of the presence of Stallings, who coached Alabama to 70 victories in his seven-year career, 1990-96, including Alabama's last national championship season in 1992.
"He did a terrific job," Saban said. "He's has been very, very helpful to us. We were happy to have him back and recognize what he did here. He certainly accomplished a lot here and contributed to the tradition of Alabama football."
Saban added, "And we had a lot of recruits here, so it was a very, very gusy weekend. It's good to get those guys up here as often as we can."
The extra events of the past few days, Saban said, made things "very hectic for our staff."
He added, "Practicing two days in a row is always challenging for the players, especially at this time of the year with as much learning as we are trying to do. Consistency and performance with our team is the biggest thing that we're trying to emphasize right now."
The Tide went through the Saturday full gear practice in approximately two hours.
The coach said, We're working hard. The coaches are working hard. The pl,ayers are working hard. Everyone is trying to get better."
Saban said, "One day one group of players or one side of the ball or one set of players will perform better and show improvement and then the next day they won't do as well and another group will surface as potentially being able to take some of the right steps."
The goal, of course, is to have everyone improving each day. He said those who do well must remember what they did and come back and do better the next day. Those who don't do well can't get frustrated, he said, but must continue to work to be consistently better.
"Right now we don't have everyone doing that every day," he said. "We have to get more consistency from more players each day. You can't go up and down. A real key to it is we need to make a significant amount of improvement at just about every position out there."
(Later, he amended "just about every position" to "every position.")
Saban said there continue to be "no significant injuries," and noted that those with slight injuries get an opportunity to heal up with the next practice not until Tuesday.
Hitting on a number of topics from sportswriters covering Saturday's practice:
"Multiple personnel groups, lot of variations in how we use the personnel we have. Same basic plays we ran at LSU and Miami, same running game, same passing game.
"Took some things from Coach Pendley and some ideas from Major. We all formulated the offense.
"We took the Miami notebook, made some additions to it. Use the terminology about 85 per cent.
"It's Alabama's offense. It's no one else's offense."
"We need to give effort, which we need to be more consistent in.
"Playing with confidence, which is mental and physical toughness, and we don't have enough players who do it on a consistent basis.
"And have guys who don't make mental errors and are responsible for what they are supposed to do.
"Conditioning.plays a part in that because when you get tired you don't perform sell in those areas.
"We need to improve in all those areas.
"You can't be a soft football team. We're not going to be a soft football team. We have to develop the players we have here to be tougher and we have to recruit the kind of players who have that kind of character and attitude and are that kind of competitor."
"We don't have running back by committee, but I like to have two. Most of the places I've been we've had two guys. We usually do extremely well when we have two backs to share the load and particularly if those guys complement each other.
"Right now we have a lot of competition at that position and trying to give everyone an opportunity to see who might emerge. Everybody is showing signs of doing good things, but I don't think anyone is a standout yet. But no one is disappointing, either."
"At times we're see some improvement, but we're still inconsistent." We're having trouble holding the point, we're not striking people like we need to, we're not disengaging from blocks like we need to. Some of it may be that we don't understand what is expected of us and some of it may be we need to get more aggressive, have more mental and physical toughness. We've got to get tougher but we've also got to execute better.
"That's an area where we need to make dramatic improvement."
"Lorenzo Washington has not been able to practice…he is practicing, but not team work. He is a possibility. We moved (Brian) Motley from center to nose and he has shown the possibility of being able to do some of those things at some time. I think the real key to a defense is to have a nose, but we don't always play that defense and there are other things we can do if we can't play that defense. And we're doing it. We have flexibility. We try to feature what the players can do."
"We need to add consistency and performance at that position. We need to make a lot of improvement. No one has emerged. We need to keep working. We have some guys who have experience and we have some young guys. I think they are getting accustom ed to the fast pace of practice and have a better understanding of what is expected to fhem, but that's another area where we need to make dramatic improvement."