The fourth year head coach met with the media Monday in his first press luncheon of the season. There was very little new to report that Saban had not covered late last week. Major story lines today were the elevation of Bryce Wyatt to starting defensive tackle and the progression of an injury of first team linebacker Adrian Mayes, who tweaked a knee over the weekend.
"I think they are tired of practicing against one another and are ready to play somebody, and I think it is probably about time for that," Saban said.
Saban added this is possibly the warmest fall camp he can remember as a head coach.
"This is the probably the hottest, I do not know how you verify that, but the wet bulb has been setting records about every afternoon," Saban said. "This is the best-conditioned team that we had coming into camp and we have probably had fewer problems because of the conditioning level. It has been difficult at times to work like we would like to work relative to every time that we practice in the morning or afternoon we have a wet bulb approaching 90 degrees."
Saban shied away from talking about Saturday's opponent. ULM enters the game as the 117th ranked team in Division I-A.
"I am going to spare you all the accolades about the other team that we are playing," Saban said. "We are not going to be underdogs in the game and everyone is going to expect us to win. I hope that our players have the proper respect for the people we are playing against because we certainly do as coaches, but I am going to spare you all that."
However, the Indians are equipped with a couple of weapons that could pose limited problems for certain areas of the Tiger squad. The offensive duo of quarterback Stephen Jyles and wideout Mack Vincent could give an inexperienced safety corps a slight test.
"This team (UL-Monroe) has 16 starters back and I think the most impressive thing about this team is the quarterback is a very good player," Saban said. "He threw for a lot of yards last year and a lot of touchdowns. He threw for 470 yards in one game. They have good skill players on offense and basically that is what they try to beat you with. They try to spread you out and use their skill players to make plays. They run a lot of tricks and gadget-type plays to make plays with and they do a very effective job with that. The second half of last season they scored lots of points and were much more effective offensively because of it."
Saban also fielded questions about his high prfile recruiting class and how many true freshmen will see the field. He responded by saying somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 newcomers could see the field.
"I don't know if that is good because Woody Hayes said you factor in one loss for every sophomore you play," Saban said. "But that was when true freshmen couldn't play."
From an injury standpoint, no significant injuries stood out except for freshmen wide receivers Amp Hill and Craig Davis as well as offensive lineman Terrell McGill.
"Our injury status, I think you all know that we have three players that are out of the game. They are (offensive guard) Terrell McGill, (wide receiver) Amp Hill, and (wide receiver) Craig Davis," Saban said. "I think all the players, we feel even if they do not practice today, will be able to play. (Linebacker) Adrian Mayes has a strained quad but he has had that for a week or so in camp. After the last scrimmage it swelled up a little bit. He even went out the next day and did some stuff and it kind of got worse. We are working to try to get him back in shape and even though he may not practice today, the consensus is that he will able to practice on Tuesday and will be ready for the game. (defensive end) Melvin Oliver and (safety) Chad White will be out there in red shirts today but we feel both of those guys still have a good chance to play in the game."
Later at practice, the media was allowed to stay just two period, however, we made a couple of observations.
- Senior guard Stephen Peterman missed practice. He was in New Orleans with his wife, who is expecting their first child.
- Saban was noticed paying extra special attention to freshman safety LaRon Landry. Almost shadowing the newcomer from Hahnville, Saban was within arm reach of Landry's every move probably meaning he is going to see significant playing time soon.