Safety First Saban Spring Game Goal

Not many plays in a spring game are memorable. An exception is from two years ago, the A-Day Game of the 2008 Alabama football team. The first offense was going against the first defense, and pass blocking broke down.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban, wearing a distinctive mustard yellow blazer, was behind quarterback John Parker Wilson. Middle linebacker Rolando McClain and jack linebacker Brandon Fanney broke free, only undersized tailback Terry Grant left to protect.

Wilson made his retreat. But Saban almost waited too late, and barely escaped being taken down in the tumble of Fanney and McClain burying Grant.

That near disaster notwithstanding, Nick Saban planned to be behind the quarterback during this year's A-Day Game.

This week he was asked: "Why."

"First thing I like, it's the best place in the house not to get run over," Saban said. "A lot of guys coach the secondary coach from behind the defense? You won't ever see me behind the defense. Everybody thinks a secondary coach should coach from the deep middle. Well, I don't want to get run over, so I stand behind the offense all the time, so the only guy I have to get out of the way of is the quarterback. And I tell them all the time that I'm a better athlete they are, I can move faster, so I can get out of the way. They don't like that. I also tell them they don't make them like they used to, so there's really no expectation that they can move as well as we do as older fellows. They don't like that either."

Then Saban got to a more practical explanation.

"I learned to see from there," he said.

"One of the things I like to stand there...I like to see the quarterback manage the game, how he calls the plays, what the demeanor is in the huddle, where his leadership is, how he's affecting other people, how organized (or lack of organization) we have in how that guy's managing the team. I get a great feel for that because I can see what's happening and hear what's happening. A guy doesn't get a signal... You get a really good feel for that from that vantage point."

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