Price Likes The Effort

In addition to the teaching, football coaching includes the psychologies of encouragement – the pats on the back and the kicks in the butt. Alabama football practices this spring under Coach Mike Price and his staff include plenty of both, praise and criticism.

Football practices also include the situation of offense vs. defense, and it's difficult for both to do well at the same time. But there are things that can always be good, including effort, and Price was pleased with Crimson Tide effort in Wednesday's practice.

Following Monday's practice, Price had lamented, "We didn't win the national championship today." Following Wednesday's two-hour workout in full gear the first question to the Crimson Tide coach was whether they had won the national championship. "No," he said, "but we came closer than we did Monday. We did okay. It was an okay practice."

Bama will have its seventh practice of the 15 allotted workouts on Friday, then have its first full scrimmage Saturday morning. (Although there is scrimmage work many days of full gear practices, there are only three days in which scrimmage is more than 50 per cent of the practice. The third and final of those scrimmage days will be the A-Day Game, which concludes spring training, on March 29.)

Price said, "Their heads are still spinning a little bit on offense." Price and his staff are installing a new offense, but, he said, "We may back off on adding new stuff. There is some confusion."

On Wednesday the Tide worked on the so-called "empty" backfield, an alignment with no back behind the quarterback. "We've got some guys who can do that," he said. Price said that the alignment can use various mixtures of tight ends, backs and wide receivers.

Among the positions coming in for compliments was tailback. "I thought the running backs ran well today," Price said.

He also said, "The defense did better."

The defense is short-handed. Back-up linebacker Juke King, who was injured in Saturday's practice, underwent knee surgery. And the defensive line was without all of those expected to be starters next fall. End Nautyn McKay-Loescher and tackle Ahmad Childress are ill with flu. Tackle Anthony Bryant is nursing a bruised coccyx (tailbone). And Antwan Odom, though in full gear for the entire practice, has not taken part in drills since suffering a mild concussion Saturday. Back-up end Leslie Williams was also absent to prepare for a test. The first defensive line was upcoming junior end Todd Bates and three redshirt freshmen – end Chris Harris and tackles Jeremy Clark and Kyle Tatum.

Price also said the secondary was doing well, singling out safety Roman Harper.

In answer to a question about the wide receivers, Price said Triandos Luke "is looking to be maybe the best. He's the most fluid, he's smart, and he makes the best cuts. He's not as fast as Zach Fletcher and not as strong as Dre Fulgham, but he may be our best overall. He's doing well. And those three are our starters."

The Tide coach also noted that the receivers are having to learn to run their routes by steps, rather than yards. "It's much better if you can learn it," he said. "The quarterback has more confidence if he knows he can throw it and the receiver is going to be there." He added, "You have to learn to run yards, too, in case they change the coverage or you get jammed at the line or something like that." Price said the good thing about learning to run routes by steps is "It's something they can work on on their own through the spring and summer."

Tide Notes: Price said he was a little tired Wednesday after having flown to New Orleans with Athletics Director Mal Moore Tuesday for dinner at Galatoires with potential donors to the Crimson Tradition Campaign. (Price had "fish with crabmeat. Delicious!")

Alabama will host "Pro Day" Thursday, an event in which professional scouts and coaches put former college players (primarily former Alabama players) through a series of tests prior to the upcoming draft.

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