First Against First In A-Day Game

The first team offense will go against the first team defense, a system that paradoxically is one Nick Saban does not prefer, but which he thinks is best from a coach's standpoint. Alabama had its final practice Thursday before it goes on public display in the A-Day Game on Saturday.

The Crimson team, the first offense and second defense, will take on the White, first defense and second offense, in the A-Day Game beginning at 2 p.m. CDT Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama Coach Nick Saban said he would prefer to have the players choose up sides for the game, adding an element of fun for the players, but said a team has to have more depth than Bama does for that scenario.

Saban pointed out that in scrimmage work and in much practice work he puts the first offense against the first defense. He said that gives players the best opportunity for competition. The Tide coach also said he hopes the results of spring practice carry over into summer workouts and to fall camp.

He said, "We try to put our players in those situations in scrimmages and practices with coaches off the field in ‘move the ball' situations in which they can show the ability to not be affected. The older players with knowledge and experience ordinarily handle those external situations better. This gives the younger players an opportunity to get that experience and maturity so they can be better players."

"I'm sure our players are happy," Saban said following Thursday's practice. He pointed out there is one final practice Monday, but the highlight of spring football practice is the Saturday spring game.

On a couple of occasions in Thursday's post-practice press briefing Saban addressed the subject of last year's college record crowd for a spring football game and expectations for this year's attendance. Saban said last year's turnout of over 92,000 resonated on several levels: support for the team, "positive energy" that was recognized by prospects and aided in Bama's best-in-the-nation recruiting class, and the Saban family taking it personally as a welcome to Alabama.

Saban said he hoped there is another big crowd for Saturday's game.

Saban said that Alabama quarterbacks would be protected in Saturday's game. The coach said that didn't mean they might not get hit occasionally. He also said he did not expect number one quarterback John Parker Wilson to play the entire game. In fact, he said, he did not anticipate any quarterback playing the entire game because he wanted all four quarterbacks to have an opportunity to perform. In accition to Wilson, those quarterbacks include Greg McElroy and Nick Fanuzzi and walk-on Thomas Darrah.

Even though there is a downside to having the quartrerback protected in a spring scrimmage, Saban indicated it does not compare to the downside of having the top quarterback suffer a broken finger, thumb, or hand.

Saban said he was pleased with the progress that had been made in the spring. He said there is still improvement to be made, but that pre-spring goal of having as many players as possible make progress did seem to have been met. He said the coaching staff would make a final evaluation of each player following spring practice.

Saban said those players who have not been able to participate in spring work because of injury and illness would not be ready for the A-Day Game. They include such players at tailback Glen Coffee, linebacker Ezekial Knight, cornerback Lionel Mitchell, defensive end Milton Talbert, offensive lineman Patrick Crump, offensive lineman Brian Motley, and snapper Paul Silvey.

Saban also revealed by sophomore defensive back Tremayne Coger of Columbia, Tenn., had elected to give up football at Alabama.

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