Football is a big part of receiver DeVonta Smith’s life.
For a University of Alabama player, it has to be.
But even when there is no game to prepare for, Smith and a few of his Crimson Tide teammates prefer keep their focus on football.
Alabama is in the first of its two bye weeks of the season and while Smith appreciates the time off to recover physically and get some rest, he would prefer to suit up on Saturday. After his 274-yard, five-touchdown effort against Ole Miss last week it’s easy to see why.
“Bye weeks are good, but then again, you want to play football,” said Smith, who leads the Crimson Tide with 537 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. “Now it’s like, ‘wow, Saturday (is here) and I don’t have a game.’ I don’t ever have time to myself so, yeah, I’m going to sit inside and playing (video games) but I’d rather be out there playing football.”
Head coach Nick Saban was vocal earlier this week on Alabama’s lack of focus during Tuesday’s practice. He wanted the bye week to be a time for players to make individual improvements before taking off for the weekend. The team had a much better practice session Wednesday.
“If everyone approaches the bye week in the right way it can be a good thing,” Alabama defensive back Jared Mayden said. “Just get back to the fundamentals, and focus, communicate, work on tackling. I need to get better at my communication skills and getting the call echoed across the board. Also I know I need to work on my tackling on the perimeter. In the SEC there are a lot of big backs so I need to make sure I’m not just going up and hitting guys as hard as I can, I have to wrap up. That’s something that’s my focus.”
The off week is a time to rest but it’s also a time to work on getting better and making all the adjustments. Running back Brian Robinson plans on doing just that. Last week Robinson rushed 10 times for a season-high 60 yards. He has 198 rushing yards with two touchdowns and is hoping to carry that momentum into next week’s matchup with Texas A&M.
“I’m just recovering and getting my legs back under me and still trying to work on my game and fix all the little details of my game that I need going into next week against Texas A&M,” Robinson said of his off-week plans. “I’m just focused on next week and preparing for that.”
Smith has a few adjustments he wants to work on as well. One is blocking. Twice he’s been called for holding and the junior says he’s got to tighten up on his blocking effort. The other area he wants to improve is playing without the ball. A few times this season he’s backed off on plays he knows don’t involve him.
“You shouldn’t do that,” Smith said. “You should play the same way as if the ball is in your hand.”
The bye week has been different for defensive back Shyheim Carter. The senior is a father of two and said he plans on spending the majority of his time off with them.
I’m going to be with my kids on Saturday,” said Carter, whose kids are age 5 and 6. “Probably going somewhere like Chuck E. Cheese or something like that. “My kids come to the games, but it’s nothing like having the whole day to be able to spend time with your kids. That’s what my bye weeks consist of.”
Reach Edwin Stanton at 205-722-0226, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @edwinstantonu2