Tide Prepared To Begin Spring Work

Some specific news was not good Tuesday, but the overall tone of Coach Nick Saban's briefing to media was upbeat as the Crimson Tide prepares to begin spring football practice Thursday.

Nick Saban will begin his second spring as head football coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide Thursday. Bama will have its annual A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on April 12.

Some news was not good. Saban reported that returning starting strongside linebacker Zeke Knight would not participate in spring practice because of health issues, that sophomore defensive end Luther Davis would not be in spring work "for personal reasons," and that freshman defensive back Chris Lett would no longer participate in football for medical reasons.

Otherwise, the medical report was generally good. The coach did say that freshman offensive lineman Patrick Crump and freshman fullback Jeramie Griffin might be held out for a couple of days to start and that junior tailback Glen Coffee, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, might be withheld from some contact.

Saban said performance in the Fourth Quarter, the off-season program of strength and conditioning, had been much better than a year earlier. He said the staff was working well together and that the attitude and effort of the players had been pleasing.

Alabama will practice on Thursday and Friday this week. The University has its spring break the following week. Bama will resume practice on March 24. The Tide will have one final practice day, April 14, after the annual Crinson-White Game on April 12.

Rules permit three scrimmages among the 15 spring practice days. Alabama's will be on March 29, April 5 (in conjunction with the annual Coaches' Clinic), and the A-Day Game on April 12.

Practices are closed to the public with the exception of the spring game. Saban noted how important last year's full house of 92,138 at Bryant-Denny Stadium had been to the team and to recruiting. He also urged Tide fans to attend the Alan Jackson concert in Bryant-Denny Stadium the night before the A-Day Game.

(In a light moment, Saban confessed that he had not shown the commitment to finish that he asks of his football team when Saban attended a Kenny Chesney concert in Tuscaloosa with his family. "I lasted about 45 minutes," he said. "But I didn't fail to meet their [his family's] expectations.")

Saban said the general goals of the spring are to have all players improve. He said the spring is enjoyable for a coach because it is a time for teaching. There is no opponent to prepare for, so players work on Alabama schemes.

He said coaches would be evaluating players to see how they can be improved and to see how the team can be at its best.

It is Saban's habit to downplay the depth chart at the beginning of spring work. For one thing, he is more interested in what the depth chart is on the last day than what it is on the first day. For another, he wants players to be motivated to compete to be number one, not to have the mindset that they are third on the depth chart and can't rise above that.

Saban said he had been pleased with the addition of Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Jim McElwain and suggested the transition would not be difficult. Roughly 70 per cent of the offense will remain the same, Saban said.

Saban said there are no plans for experimentation with players at new positions, but didn't rule out that possibility.

BamaMag Top Stories