Saban Pleased At Work Through ‘Dog Days'

Because of rain throughout the day Tuesday, the Alabama football team went into the indoor facility for a full gear practice. The Crimson Tide is scheduled for two practices Wednesday. Tide players have pleased their head coach this week.

Following Tuesday's two-hour workout, Alabama Coach Nick Saban said, "I think it was a good change of pace for the guys to have the opportunity to go indoors today. I think that this week of camp-- everybody talks about it being the dog days of camp—is the most difficult week.

"There is a lot of energy and enthusiasm when you start. There is a lot of energy and enthusiasm for that first scrimmage. This week separates the men from the boys.

"In the three practices that we have since the scrimmage (two Monday and one Tuesday), I've been really pleased with the leadership, attitude, work ethic, focus and guys really working to improve and not just trying to get through the week and get to one-a-days, but actually making every opportunity that they have in practice be something that is beneficial to them. The guys that make those investments make a lot of improvement, and I think that's going to make us a better football team."

Saban said, "We continually try to work on areas that are critical to us in the off-season. We are trying to end each practice with some kind of game situation that would help us finish games better, finish halves better."

Also, Saban said, "There is a big emphasis on being a better third-down team and a big emphasis on turnovers. Getting turnovers on defense. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. We did not get enough last year. And taking care of the ball a little better on offense.

"Our red zone efficiency is something that we want to improve on on both sides of the ball. That is something that we continue to try and work on and make progress with."

Saban, who had an impressive group of running backs when he was head coach at LSU, was asked how many he needs at Alabama.

"The more you have, the better," Saban said. "At a minimum you need two good ones and then you need some role players past that. It's a luxury to have three really good running backs."

The coach said, "Glen Coffee has really turned into an outstanding back, a jack-of-all-trades kind of guy who can run and block and catch. He's really smart, understands the offense, and has good instincts.

"Terry Grant played well for us last year until he was injured. He's had a good camp. Roy Upchurch has experience. Mark Ingram as a freshman has done well.

"It's better than it was a year ago."

The Tide coach was asked about the progress of freshman safety Mark Barron.

"We'll see how he learns," Saban said. "He's a good player. He's working hard and doing a good job. He's got a lot to learn. A safety has hard adjustments.

"Players have to be allowed to develop, and you never know how fast they will develop. I don't like to be too quick to judge or to have expectations. You need to let it happen."

Photos of Prince Hall indicate the junior linebacker is in better shape, down a few pounds from 2007 when he was reported to be pushing 270. "He's really worked hard," Saban said. "He's done a nice job this summer. He's managed his weight better. He's done a good job of making progress. He has been fortunate to have good support and that's enabled him to continue to be a part of this program. He will be suspended for some games, however.

The coach said freshman tight end Brad Smelley, who has been in a black (no contact) jersey this week, suffered a pulled hamstring and may be out another day or two. No one else is injured, he said.

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