Saban's Spring Practice news conference, Part 3

Part 3 of Saban's news conference heading into the first session of spring practice.

Q: Are there any guys you're expecting to step up and be leaders on this team?

A: I've been pleased with the way the senior group that we have right now has responded. Bradie James has always been a good leader and is a real team guy. It was demonstrated how much the team means (to him) …that he chose to stay here.

Domanick Davis has been a pretty good leader on this football team. Jerel Myers has been a leader on this team. Kenderick Allen, in his own way, has been a good leader. Normal LeJeune has been a good leader.

We have a lot of players who are good leaders.

I think Matt Mauck is a good leader. You don't have to be a senior to be a good leader. If you can affect other people, that makes you a good leader. I feel good about some of the guys who are in positions of leadership. I think Damien James has leadership quality.

I think we have a few guys who need to contribute to that. If there's one thing I'd like to hope for this team this year, it's that more guys take an ownership in the leadership.

I hear these stories all the time about how I meet with the seniors and some anonymous source says what (I) talk to the seniors about. That's really nobody's business. Just like it's nobody's business what you talk to your family about. It's really nobody's business what I talk to the seniors about because it's their team. They have ownership of the team. I allow them to take ownership of the team, which is what helps them take the responsibility and the leadership.

But I can discuss things with them if it's going to become a public referendum every time I have a conversation with them about something.

That's how I try to get players to take ownership of the team and to provide leadership. They feel like they have some ability to make decisions relative to where the team's going.

It's not really my team. You don't ever really hear me say that. It is our team. It is the players' team, the coaches' team, all of our team – everybody that supports the team and takes ownership of it.

I just try to drive the bus so we don't get in a ditch. We've been close a couple times to the ditch.

Q: Is Reggie Robinson 100 percent?

A: Reggie Robinson is a hundred percent but he will wear a red (no contact) shirt in spring so that we can allow his neck to continue to heal. He's cleared to run out for passes, catch passes and all that. But we're going to try to avoid direct contact with him through the course of the spring.

We have several other guys who had shoulder operations – Hookfin, Travis Moses, a couple other guys who will wear red shirts because of that.

I figure by tomorrow you guys will take roll, know every guy that isn't there, every guys that's got a red shirt you'll want to know what's wrong with him. I'm going to let you all do a little research on that part, all right? Get you roll out and see who's there and who's not there. Who's got a red shirt and who doesn't have one?

You guys have gotta do something. I can't do everything for you.

Q: How much did you all tinker with your offense in anticipation of using a different type quarterback (than Rohan Davey)?

A: Not really that much because a lot of the stuff we did through the course of last year, which no one ever saw until the SEC Championship game when we ended up having to play (Mauck)… I don't feel like we're going to make wholesale changes in what we do. I think we'll have a few plays in there that will actually enhance the quarterback's ability maybe to use his legs to make plays on occasion.

I'm an old pro guy. (When you) pay the quarterback $6 million a year, you don't get him hurt running the ball. I know that's not a college thing but it's still hard for me.

Q: But would it be fair to say (Mauck and Randall) are similar to each other than they were to Rohan, so that if one of them has to come in, you don't have to change the offense?

A: Yeah, they are more similar. I would agree with that.

Q: With Reggie having to sit out last season, how hard was it for him?

A: I'm sure he was really disappointed when this all happened to him. I'm sure it was disappointing to him the entire season when he, being the kind of competitor he is and the kind of young man he is, that he couldn't be out there contributing to the team.

But he was involved and stayed involved with the team. It was important to him and we're just happy to have him back. I think he's kind of put all that behind him and is really looking forward to having a good year this year.

Q: Where is Clausen in the quarterback competition? Is it open or is it Matt's job to lose?

A: We don't have any depth chart right now. I know we'd like to create a controversy here and say that it's an open race and all that.

We don't have a depth chart. We don't have a starting quarterback. We will have one.

I don't think any different than you guys think about. Why do you want me to say something about just so you can make a big deal about it?

Q: I just was trying to find out about how Clausen's development was going.

A: But that's not what you asked. You asked that, then another question. I'm just (kidding). Clausen's doing fine. Now what's the next part?

I'm just kidding. But everybody wants the depth chart and we haven't even practiced yet. Everybody has to go out there, whether you're first, second, third, fourth, and has the opportunity to compete. We want everybody to feel like they have the opportunity to compete.

I always start the spring with no depth chart. Michael (Bonnette, sports information director) made the depth chart up. Go ask him because I don't have one yet. We just put them out there for organizational purposes. Hopefully the best man will win and we're going to decide who it is.

Q: For the guy who was a starter last year in the SEC Championship game and the Sugar Bowl, how much do you challenge him to not have complacency?

A: I have already challenged them and I have not seen (complacency) at all in this off-season. We've had I don't know how many workouts. Tommy Moffit (strength/conditioning coordinator) told me 3,000 and something – a hundred guys times how many times we had weight workouts – we had one guy miss a workout in 3,000 weight workouts…

I don't see (complacency). I don't see it in their eyes when they go to (work out). We had the best off-season program we've had since we've been here. It's gotten better every year.

Now that doesn't mean we're going to have a better team. It means the attitude of the players, their willingness to work and invest their time in what they're doing is good – which comes from their attitude.

Q: Is that important for you to see?

A: It's the most important. That's why it was the first thing I talked about.

Q: Corey Webster's high school coaches say he has the potential to be an all-league player at cover corner if he ever makes up his mind he wants to do something like that. Do you see that kind of potential in him or are you just trying to find a place for him to get more playing time?

A: We always try to evaluate how much is a guy playing at the position he's at, and nobody was disappointed in anything Corey Webster was doing as a wide receiver. But he probably made one big play last year at Alabama and he had (seven) catches for the year. He had some production but he didn't play a whole bunch.

Then you look at it on (defense) where we were playing a safety at corner from the middle of the year on, and giving up lots of big plays. Corey actually went over there last year and learned how to play in an emergency basis. I think it got more and more difficult for him as the year went on to try to keep up with both, and we kind of quit doing it at the end. We ended up playing Travis Daniels in the championship game and losing his redshirt.

We just want to see how he can do it. His attitude has been good about trying to do it, and hopefully he'll go out there with that attitude and give it a shot.

When we recruited Corey Webster, we recruited him as a defensive back. That's what where we thought he would play. He wanted a chance to play wide receiver, so we gave him that chance. He's never disappointed us at wide receiver or his development as a wide receiver.

This is more – let's put all the players on the board and rate them 1-70 (on) how much are they playing, where could they play more and how could it help the team.

Most guys buy into that because they all want to play. Now everybody has a position that they like to play best. I like to play quarterback; I never played quarterback in college. I like to pitch; I never pitched from the time I was 12 years old. I played shortstop but I'd still rather pitch than do anything else. But I wasn't any good at it.

Q: You were pretty low on the depth chart.

A: Me? Yeah, I'm low.

Q: Can you talk about Shyrone Carey's potential to make great plays seeing that he hasn't played a game in two years? How do you think that will affect him early in the season?

A: I don't think it will affect him at all because he did practice all last season. I think it affected him quite a bit in that he wasn't able to practice and go to the bowl game, so his time out was a lot greater than the other players. He probably made one of the biggest jumps in conditioning level, in ability to sustain…in the off-season program because of that. That was evident, in terms of conditioning and not having played in two years, in the off-season program.

Where he is right now we feel good about. He's not the kind of guy or kind of competitor that lacks confidence in his ability to go whatever and make plays. I think the biggest task we have is to find out where that is because there's no question that ability exists, and we've got to get him on the field some place to find out where he can contribute the best.


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