Saban Covers A-Day Ups and Downs

Even Alabama head coach Nick Saban was in awe of the capacity crowd which piled into Bryant-Denny Stadium for Saturday's A-Day game. It was the first thing on his mind during his post-scrimmage press conference.

"First of all I'd like to send a thanks to all of our fans and supporters who made this a special day," he said. "Today shows what passion and support we have at The University of Alabama and it certainly makes me feel great about being here as head coach. I hope we can channel that positive momentum to get where we want to go. "I know it inspired our players and was certainly a positive for them to play in front of a great crowd."

Saban watched the game from behind the offensive huddle, because he wanted to see how his players reacted to situations up-close and personal.

"I stand out there so I can see the way guys react and respond to things," he said. "I was a little disappointed in the defense at the end of the game, the crimson defense. They needed to get the ball back.

"You see the body language, you see how they react and respond. I thought that was better. What our guys had to learn is that body language shows the other guy how the game is going. If I'm showing that I'm hurt I show the other guy he's getting the best of me. It's kind of a boxer's mentality. And you never want to let the other guy know he's getting the best of you."

THE POSITIVES
"I was overall pleased with the way the game went," Saban said, "pleased with progress that we've made this spring. I'm not satisfied with where we are and where we need to be. The focus was for every individual to focus on every individual play."

Cornerback "Lionel Mitchell has made very good progress throughout spring," Saban said, "so has (freshman cornerback) Kareem Jackson and (sophomore) Marquis Johnson. They're all young players and they have improved dramatically. Hopefully they will all continue to improve so we'll have the kind of depth on the back end to play five and six deep when we need to play them."

"We have a lot more experience on offense," he said. "We have nine guys who have played, more than nine really, several other guys who have played significantly, whether you classify them as starters or not. There's a little more maturity there more knowledge and experience. They've done a good job of taking to the offense and buying into what we need to do."

"I'm pleased with the offensive line has developed," Saban said, "even though we haven't had continuity relative to injuries there."

Saban said Mike Johnson had developed well at right tackle, getting more playing time due to injuries to Chris Capps and B.J. Stabler at the position.

Defensive tackle "Bryan Motley has probably been the pleasant surprise of the spring," Saban said. "We're pleased with outside linebackers Keith (Saunders) and Zeke (Knight). They still make some mental errors that they need to correct, but overall have adjusted well.

NEGATIVES
"We had some of that (losing focus) out there today," Saban said. "We had guys get tired and guys get beat. We need to learn from it because that's the only way we're going to get better. I don't know what's the big deal, create news some other kind of way because that was very clear in terms of what I said (on Thursday) and what I meant and how it defines what a competitor is."

"I know some guys got behind them (first-team defensive backs) a couple of times," Saban said. " If you're playing corner in certain coverages that's not supposed to happen. We're going to give up big plays if that happens, and I think it happened too much today in the secondary on the back end with the first group.

"On the other hand, when you make that statement you have to say the receivers did a pretty good job of getting there."

"Receivers need to be more consistent in terms of taking advantage of opportunities," Saban said. "We missed some opportunities today with dropped balls. John Parker has to know its important to know he can do every aspect and pay attention to details so we can execute together as a team and eliminate the bad plays."

"Discipline and execution wasn't perfect," he said. "We dropped some balls. Tackling was pretty good. Execution wasn't perfect."

BACK-UP QB GREG MCELROY
"Greg I think has made a lot of improvement," Saban said. "He is instinctive as a quarterback. He understands very well what he's supposed to do and he's a very good athlete. There's been times he hasn't been able to make all the throws he needs to make but he has made progress in that area, and it's going to be important for our team that we continue to develop the back-up quarterback position."

TERRY GRANT AND OTHER RBS
"We're still looking for a tandem at running back to get someone else who has consistency that we need," Saban said. "Terry would be a great guy – We had LeBrandon Toefield and Domanick Davis - he'd be the Domanick Davis and then have a bigger stronger guy that would be a nice change of pace, and give us the ability to feature both those guys in different ways."

INJURIES
"We had two guys get shoulder injuries (during the game,) Saban said, "Glen Coffee and Charles Hoke, but not bad as we see it right now. I don't think they're anything serious.

ET CETERA
"You don't look at the scoreboard when you're a competitor," Saban said, "because the score of the game only counts at the end of the game. You need to be able to focus on the next play. Everybody says play for 60 minutes, but how about focus on every individual play for that 60 minutes.

"Toughness is nothing more than being able to play with consistency in adverse circumstances, so that's what we try to get our players to do for 60 minutes."

"Our action is what will satisfy or disappoint. What we did today I think sends message that there's a lot of support and enthusiasm for what we're doing here. I appreciate it. It makes me and my family feel good about being here, and God knows we went through a little bit to get here. It was a great to see that kind of support, that kind of passion, and that kind of enthusiasm. That's what makes this place special."

"All these guys have had to go through a little bit of a learning curve relative to how we do things. It hasn't been easy for them and it hasn't been easy for us. We're kind of becoming a family and a team and I think guys like Wallace Gilberry and his leadership has been good in helping that happen."

I'm a perfectionist, so I'm never satisfied with where we are.


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