Saban on A-Day

Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban talked to the press about the format A-Day on Thursday afternoon after his team went through its next-to-last spring practice.

The scrimmage will have the first offense and second defense on one unit, and the first defense and second offense on another unit, with other players mixed in.

"The best thing for us to do is play our good players against our good players," Saban said. "Nobody knows what the right way is, so each year you try to figure out what's best for your team."

Saban said he wanted that format, similar to what they do in normal scrimmages, because he is still trying to identify his best players.

"If we were looking for a show dog we'd put all the dogs on one team and let them show," he said. "If we were looking for hunting dogs we'd put them in the most competitive situation and see which ones can find ducks, or go get them or whatever they do. Which one do you think we're looking for?"

Everyone in the football complex as well as some faculty and members of the media will be on one team or another with the "steak and beans" routine for the winners and losers. The winning team on Wednesday will eat steak, and the loser will eat beans, Saban said.

The list of players who Saban said were "probably out" of Saturday's scrimmage because they ddin't practice on Thursday included cornerback Eric Gray, receiver Jake Jones, linebacker Charlie Kirschman, tight end Travis McCall (calf strain), receiver Aaron McDaniel, receiver Tyrone Prothro (leg) and offensive lineman B.J. Stabler (knee).

Players who will be limited, include quarterback Jimmy Barnes (knee), offensive lineman Chris Capps (shoulder), receiver Will Oakley (shoulder), defensive tackle Byron Walton (hand, probably will play), defensive tackle Lorenzo Washington (pectoral, will dress out but probably won't play) and safety Justin Woodall (ankle).

Beat writer's from the state's newspapers were picked to be honorary coaches for the A-Day game. Saban said he'll be "the commissioner" of the game, so he can dictate what goes on.

"On Saturday, after the game I'm going to be sitting down there and all you are going to come up here and I'm going to ask questions," he warned. "You're going to find out how hopeless and helpless you feel trying to answer that question."

"The real reason for this," Saban said, "as bad as you think my media relationship is, this is nothing new. We've always done this. I like for you to have the opportunity to be around and gain appreciation for what actually goes on in a game situation. It will be helpful for you to learn about what we do."

There will be no live kickoffs and the defensive team won't be allowed to try to block field goals.

Saban said Thursday's practice in shorts and helmets (with thin pads called "spider pads"), the 14th of 15, was not dedicated to preparing for the A-Day game.

"We're not practicing for the game, we're practicing to get better," he said. "We had the last ten minutes of practice for the game."

The A-Day game will be an "opportunity to see which players can go out and perform better on their own," he said. "Do they melt down when they make a mistake? Does it take them three plays to shake it off? Who can we depend on here? Who takes care of the ball? There's a lot of things that can be evaluated from spring games."

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