Saban Says Practice Is Crisper, Quicker

Over 1,000 high school coaches attended Alabama practice sessions and a high-powered coaching clinic at The Capstone this week as the Crimson Tide ended its first full week of spring training. It was not a surprise that one coach recognized a reporter waiting outside before meeting with Bama Coach Nick Saban.

"I don't think he's in a good mood for you today," the coach confided, obviously speaking of Alabama Coach Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide was nearing the end of its fifth practice of the spring, fourth of the week, and third in full gear. We suggested it might be difficult to tell.

Coach Saban can be a little testy even when things are going well. As it turned out, he may not have demonstrated being pleased with practice while on the field, but in Saturday's post-practice press briefing, things didn't sound too bad.

"I thought today that in practice we looked a little bit crisper, a little bit quicker," Saban said. "Third day out there in pads we're probably getting a little used to it.

"Offensively I've been very pleased with our ability to execute. We've got some experience in the offensive line. We've got some good young players who have done a good job in the offensive line. For the most part, we've got all our skill guys back. Quarterback (Greg McElroy), runners (Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson). Michael Williams has played really well this spring at tight end. So we're fairly well pleased with the progress we're making on offense."

He was a little more cautious regarding a defensive unit that is replacing almost everyone from Bama's national championship team.

"Defensively, I think we have some good young players," he said. "I think we have a long way to go. We have lots of guys who make too many mistakes, don't understand the intensity, mentally, that they have to focus and play with on a consistent basis. We'll just keep working with them and get them to improve and continue to develop. It's going to be a work in progress for us.

?"I'm pleased with the effort, I just think the mental focus and intensity and the mental toughness that we have to sustain as practice goes on is the biggest thing we have to continue to be able to do. Which means you've got to be able to play with consistency."?

Saban said that work continues in the kicking game, including kicking field goals for the first time this spring on Saturday. "We have a couple of guys who can kick," he said. "We've just got to work on consistency in those areas, as well as in the punting game and continue to try to develop the special teams play that we have."?

Saban said he was very pleased with the turnout for the coaching clinic and with the job that the lecturers did at the clinic. They included former Alabama players Danny Ford, who was a head coach at both Clemson and Arkansas, and Amos Jones, who is now in pro football. He called it an opportunity for the Bama staff to show its appreciation for the job that high school coaches do in starting boys on the right path.

It can be assumed that Alabama's highlight film from 2009, when the Crimson Tide went 14-0 and won the national championship, is an impressive one. Saban said the visiting coaches had an opportunity to see the film Friday night.

"Every one of the guys on the highlight film was coached by a high school coach who helped make the player what they are," Saban said.

Alabama's practice will be a little different next week. Bama will work Monday in full gear, scale back to working in shells Wednesday, and then have a scrimmage on Friday, the eighth practice of the spring. The scrimmage is on Friday so that players can be off on Saturday and Sunday for Easter weekend.

Alabama will conclude spring work with the A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, April 17. That 15th and final practice will begin at 2 p.m. CDT and be open to the public at no admission charge. ESPN will televise the event nationally.? ?

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