A Few Assassins In Alabama Army
Alabama Coach Nick Saban met with media Sunday morning prior to the Crimson Tide practice and Fan Day at Bryant-Denny Stadium. One of the questions concerned the few number of kickers in fall camp.
Alabama's roster of 105 (the limit allowed until classes begin at The University) includes only three kicking specialists -- returning seniors placekicker Leigh Tiffin and punter P.J. Fitzgerald and freshman walk-on placekicker Jeremy Shelley of Raleigh, N.C. A handful of other returning kickers and punters are expected when classes begin Aug. 19, and it's also possible that other newcomers will join the team either for the fall semester or the spring semester.
Saban explained that Alabama was two deep at placekicker, punter and deep snapper. Tiffin is a back-up punter. The Tide also has returning senior deep snapper Brian Selman and back-up snapper Carson Tinker.
Saban said, "Fall camp used to be a huge thing because it lasted for a longer time. School used to start Labor Day. So we would have fall camp for 30 days and never have school. Now school starts on Aug. 19. We can bring other people in on Aug. 19 and they really effectively missed how many practices? Fourteen or 15."
The Tide coach explained that players are needed at positions for fall pracice "so we don't overload some position by not having the correct numbers as opposed to having 14 punters, kickers and long snappers. I mean, what do they do in practice? They don't run out for any passes.
"Don't get me wrong. I love kickers. But we're trying to train an army and those guys strictly are assassins. They only do one thing one time. They don't need the training.
"They just have to sit in the window and know when to take the shot.
"We just don't like not having enough pursuers, DBs, linebackers, defensive linemen, offense linemen. And the way we practice with two- and three-spot drills going on, there's not a lot of standing around. If we don't have enough numbers, we can't really practice that way.
"But Leigh is the backup punter, so that's two and we brought in a freshman kicker who is competing to be the backup kicker, so we still have two of those. And we still have two long snappers.
"You're just like all the college special teams guys. When you go to the NFL, you have one kicker, one punter and one long snapper to play 14-game season, 16-game season or however many games they play. And there's nobody else on the roster who can do either one. Michael Dean Perry was our backup kicker in Cleveland, a three-technique defensive lineman in a 4-3, a straight-on kicker who looked like Lou Groza. Every Thursday, he practiced one. If he ever had to do it in a game, he did it.
"We worry about having 14 guys. You ought to see it when we do the travel squad with 70 people. The special teams coach wants to take 18 guys -- three long snappers, three kickers, what if something happens to this guy, what if something happens to that guy. I'm used to having one. But we usually have two."
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