Saban Says Tide Making Progress

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said that life for a college athlete "is like a three-ring circus," with players having to balance classroom work, football, and a social life. He called the first day of classes Wednesday "a little bit of a challenge," but said the team has bounced back.

Alabama is now into something of a normal practice routine and has its final scrimmage of Fall camp Saturday. Alabama opens the season two weeks from Saturday, hosting San Jose State on September 4.

" I think we're making progress," Saban said. "I think we're improving. I think this scrimmage will be a good indicator of how many guys have improved. Did they learn some things from the last time in terms of the mistakes that they mad?. Every mistake that a guy makes is an opportunity to learn."

In Alabama's first scrimmage last Saturday, the offense dominated the defense, notably in the passing game. Saban was asked what he expected from Saturday's scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

"We still want to let the players play," Saban said. "We want to see who can go out there and play at a higher level in terms of taking their knowledge, experience, ability to adjust and adapt, still play hard and play effective winning football. We're still looking for a number of guys at a number of positions to find out who we're going to coach for this season.

"Also, we'll probably have a few more situations because we like to try to cover every situation that we can cover somewhere in camp. Some of those things we will scrimmage.

"We want to let the players play. It will probably be a little bit more game-like, for a while. We'll see who can respond and react to those kinds of circumstances."

Saban said that freshman Corey Grant has returned to the tailback position after a few days working at cornerback. Alabama's cornerback corps had been thinned by injuries. "We just said that we were going to look at him," Saban said. "I think he could play corner if we needed him to. He did a nice job. He did it for the team. He's a fine young man and a great person and really did a very, very good job. I'm pleased with him.

"It's our intention that we make sure that a guy, if he can be a contributor on offense at a skill position, that's certainly what we'd like for him to do. That's how we recruited him, and that's what we're going to do with him. He did do that for the team."

Saban said the injury situation includes three men, and he said all are making progress. Cornerback DeMarcus Milliner, defensive end Undra Billingsley, and running back Blake Sims are all nursing foot or ankle injuries. Saban said all are day-to-day, but that he expects Billingsley back as early as Friday and that Sims might be a week.

Saban confirmed that freshman defensive end Alfy Hill had been declared ineligible after the NCAA Clearinghouse reviewed correspondence courses taken by Hill. Saban said Hill's options included prep school, junior college, or retaining courses. He said Alabama would sign him again when he is eligible. Also as previously announced, Hill's spot on the reporting roster was taken by freshman tight end Harrison Jones, who had been scheduled to be gray-shirted.

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