Signs Of Football Getting Closer

There are signs that the Alabama football season is drawing closer. The temperature was down Tuesday, a high of about 93 instead of 99 or 100. And Nick Saban talking about the things the Crimson Tide needs to get done in the final week and a half of practice.



Alabama will open the season a week from Saturday, hosting San Jose State at 6 p.m. CDT on Sept. 4. The Tide has had its last full scrimmage. Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban wants to build on the improvement that showed up in Bama's second and final scrimmage last Saturday, and he wants the players to take the cognitive step of "taking ownership for what they need to do to make those improvements.

"We as coaches want to help them do that in every way we can, but we're looking for players to take ownership. The team kind of belongs to you. You guys all need to decide exactly what you want to accomplish and what kind of commitment you're going to have to it. We're going to do everything we can to inspire and encourage and help you prepare, and do all we can as coaches to get you where you want to be."

Saban said after looking at film of the scrimmage that "there was a lot of improvement made by a lot of players. I think more guys played with the kind of intensity, sense of urgency that we need to play, intelligence, we made less mental errors. But, at the same time, we also had more penalties. We need to improve on that. We didn't make as many explosive plays on offense, although we did move the ball effectively and executed fairly well."

Alabama is not yet into game-week preparation. That will come beginning Monday. Saban said, "We work on fundamentals very hard, and do a lot of work against each other, so we can continue to improve working good on good and try to get better execution in the basic fundamental things that we need to do to play winning football. We still have a long way to go and a lot of young guys that have made a tremendous amount of improvement, but they need to continue to grow and play with more consistency so we can get them where they want to be and where we need them to be so they can affect their unit in a positive way."

Another wrinkle of practice, Saban said, is "to take something that our opponents do that's a little bit different that we play, and work a portion of the practice on that. It's something that we haven't had much practice on against each other."

On the injury front, Saban said that cornerback DeMarcus Milliner was able to run, though not practice; that running back Blake Sims was was to practice a bit; and that H-back Preston Dial "did some drills, but didn't totally practice. Those guys are gradually coming back, and we expect to have all of those guys back by the end of the week."

Not so with safety Kendall Kelly, who went out on the first day of practice with what has been described as a "heat issue." Saban said the doctors continue to work with Kelly. The coach said that even after Kelly is cleared to return that it will take him several weeks to get into game condition.

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