Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bama Practices 4/7-4/11

Crimson Tide fans, meet 'Jack’ on defense - Christopher Walsh - Tuscaloosa News
TUSCALOOSA Even many non-football aficionados are already familiar with the standard nicknames associated to linebackers: Mike, Sam and Will.The first letter of each name corresponds to the player’s place on the field: Mike is the middle linebacker, Sam is on the strong side and Will the weak side.Well, University of Alabama fans have a new name they need to become familiar with, due to coach Nick Saban’s unique version of the 3-4 defense (three down linemen, four linebackers).Say hello to “Jack," which could be short for “Just about everywhere else," because there’s nearly nothing typical about the position that’s a cross between defensive lineman and linebacker.“A guy that has some size, maybe he’s not truly linebacker-type athleticism, but has some of those characteristics," Saban said. “A guy that may be a good pass-rusher, but not be a true defensive lineman relative to his physical characteristics. So you can kind of co-mingle those things into a guy who is sometimes a linebacker and sometimes a defensive end, sometimes a linebacker who does a lot of rushing."

Crimson Tide Football Prepare for First Scrimmage - Ben Blevins, UA Media Relations
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Crimson Tide football team was in helmets and shoulder pads on Thursday for a two-hour practice at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility. It was the last practice before the team scrimmages for the first time Friday afternoon. The team has been working on its new offensive and defensive systems andwill be able to get a good look of where they stand halfway through spring drills on Friday as they go head-to-head. "We have a lot of stuff in," said junior quarterback John Parker Wilson. "We are just going to go out there and work on those plays and try to get as good as we can with everything we have in so far."

Tide taking baby steps in scrimmage-Establishing depth a priority-Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
The Alabama football team will take a break from the tedium of spring practice today, conducting the first of two spring scrimmages under new head coach Nick Saban this afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The scrimmage will also mark the halfway point of spring practice, with two weeks of work remaining before the annual A-Day spring game on April 21.
"I think it is going to be fun," quarterback John Parker Wilson said. "It will be like walking baby steps where the coaches let us go and see what we can do. It is important for us to know where we stand so far. When we go against the defense tomorrow, it is going to be faster."
Of course, it will be difficult to gauge how much progress Alabama will make in its first spring scrimmage. Unlike past Crimson Tide events, this one is closed to the public and the media.

Practice Notebook - By Dan Sellers - Special to The Tuscaloosa News
Sophomore running back Jimmy Johns has not participated in the last two Alabama spring football practices, including Friday’s scrimmage, because of academic issues. “If he does what he is supposed to do, both yesterday and today, and again on Monday, we will see if we end up letting him back on the field,” head coach Nick Saban said.Saban said the running back position was wide open, even before Johns’ absence from practice.“It’s wide open,” he said. “Dependability is a part of it. If a guy can’t even do what he’s supposed to do to get into practice, that’s not saying much in terms of where he’s at.”In Johns’ absence, Saban said Glen Coffee (15 carries, 81 yards, TD), Jamar Taylor (10 carries, 32 yards, TD) and Terry Grant (12 carries, 53 yards, TD) performed well during the scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
(Video Included with this link)

Football practice, 4/6/2007 Photo Gallery - Tuscaloosa News

COMMENTARY: Saban's stingy media policies only hurting fans - Montgomery Advertiser
The hypocrisy of Nick Sa ban is astonishing. So far this spring, the University of Alabama head coach has blown off the media several times.
He's prevented reporters from speaking to players and assistant coaches most of the time. On Friday, after the Crimson Tide's first scrimmage of the spring, Saban refused to make players available to the media and opened the scrimmage up for only the first six minutes.
This from a guy who owes most of his financial success to the very media he's now giving the shaft.
Let's be real here, Nick Saban's reputation is mostly hype.
He was overrated at Michigan State, overrated at LSU and rated about right in Miami. He's an average coach who, through mostly media attention, has garnered this reputation of being a great coach.
In truth, he's not as successful as Auburn's Tommy Tuberville. The two have roughly the same coaching records and Tuberville has a better record in head-to-head meetings.
There's not an Alabama fan alive who believes Tuberville is anything other than an average coach. And maybe he is. But that leaves a serious question: If Tuberville is considered average, how has Saban managed to achieve his big reputation?
The answer is simple -- the media.

Alabama football - Sunday, April 08, 2007 IAN R. RAPOPORT - Birmingham News
The subject was Kevin Steele, and why he was hired to become Alabama's defensive coordinator. To explain, coach Nick Saban told a story: Back in 1994 when defensive guru Buddy Ryan was the Arizona Cardinals' head coach, Saban was the Cleveland Browns' defensive coordinator. Visiting Ryan to gain some insight, Saban asked him what was the toughest part about being a head coach? "When I become head coach, I lose my best assistant," Ryan, the architect of the great Chicago Bears' defenses, told Saban. "I was always somebody's best assistant, and when I became a head coach, I just turned the defense over to somebody else. It was never the same." Saban, who often was a head coach's top assistant, vowed he would not face the same dilemma when he was in charge. He would make sure this facet of the team was "done the right way." That's why he hired Steele, who has been a Saban confidant for years. Routinely, one would find himself calling the other and asking, "What do you think of this idea?"
"There has always been a common bond there," said Steele, whose resume includes stints as Baylor's head coach, as Florida State's executive coach and as an NFL assistant. "We've been personal friends for a long time, and he was always somebody I could lean on heavily from a football standpoint."

Saban has upper hand with media - Paul Finebaum - Tuesday, April 10, 2007
In what has become a common occurrence since early winter, another media attack has landed squarely on Nick Saban's noggin. Poor guy. Almost makes you want to feel sorry for Alabama's $4 million a year head football coach. Almost. However, the shocker was that the shots came from inside the boundaries of the state of Alabama. Not from ESPN, the New York Times or the Miami Herald, but from a sports columnist at the Montgomery Advertiser named Josh Moon. After waking up and reading his column on Easter Sunday, many Tide fans were probably ready to fly this guy to the Moon -- on a one-way ticket. "The hypocrisy of Nick Saban is astonishing," Moon's column began. Yep, got my attention, too. From there, Moon began to hammer the Tide coach's attitude toward the media -- from allowing reporters into a recent scrimmage for only six minutes to refusing to allow players to speak afterward. "This from a guy who owes most of his financial success to the very media he's now giving the shaft," wrote Moon. "Let's be real here. Nick Saban's reputation is mostly hype. ... When he needed the press for his personal advancement, we were great guys to have around." Oh my, I love a good spicy sports column that is full of great entertainment. This one certainly qualifies in every department. However, I began to wonder if Moon had hit his head against the wall before penning this particular entry. Or was he writing it with an AK-47 rifle being held to his head in the hands of some deranged Auburn fan? How does one equate two SEC championships and a BCS national championship at LSU with hype?

Does Saban know what he's in for? - Sporting News
It always comes back to the story of the brick. Doesn't matter who's preaching or pontificating, who's venting or fuming. It's the brick that begins and ends every coaching story at Alabama 25 years A.B. (After Bear). Yet there's this nagging detail in the anecdote as it grows larger and looms heavier with every dissertation on the obstacles facing each new coach who follows legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant: It wasn't that big of a deal. Hey, no self-respecting Alabama man can put up with a loss to Mississippi, especially on homecoming weekend. Bill Curry -- the coach in the barrel when the brick crashed through his office window nearly 20 years ago -- was lucky he didn't get worse. "Strange things happen to coaches everywhere," Curry says. "That was the least of it at Alabama, I can assure you."

ALABAMA: Motley right at home on 'D' - Montgomery Advertiser
TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama's Brian Motley was told the day before the start of spring training he would be moving to defense. Eight practices later, the former Autaugaville High two-way star recorded a surprising 11 tackles, including three for loss, in the team's first scrimmage. "I surprised myself," Motley said Tuesday. "The coaches told me I did a great job." As Motley and his teammates went through the Crimson Tide's ninth practice of the spring Tuesday, all of the buzz focused on the 6-foot-1, 280-pound Motley. Redshirted last season as a third-team center behind Antoine Caldwell and Evan Cardwell, he earned his teammates' respect last Friday by winning the battle of the trenches against those players.

Johnson, Carter quietly add stability to secondary-Christopher Walsh-Tuscaloosa News
If there’s one spot on the University of Alabama football team this spring where it appears the adage, “The more things change, the more they stay the same," holds true, it’s at safety.Although there are new coaches, a new defensive scheme, numerous changes to the depth chart, players moving around on a daily basis, and no Jeffrey Dukes, who has moved on and hopes to land with an NFL team later this month, the Crimson Tide still has two proven commodities in the middle of the secondary with junior Marcus Carter and sophomore Rashad Johnson.They’re the rocks of the position, the experienced players who have quietly gone about their business through the first nine practices -- although in the shadow of head coach Nick Saban, who has been very hands-on with the defensive backs thus far.So what’s new with the two? Actually quite a lot.“It’s a totally new system, a lot of new calls," Carter said. “We’re still trying to get a feel for him. Big difference from last year.

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