Even in a limited media viewing, an observer can tell when a team has reached the point where it is tired of taking out its frustration on teammates.

That’s not necessarily a negative. What Nick Saban wants to see now is a steady progress until Saturday, the energy left after a long August replenished, harnessed and released at game time against Duke in Atlanta.

The Crimson Tide has not lost an opening game since 2001, a performance in Dennis Franchione’s debut that featured enthusiasm but 17 penalties (to zero). Saban has won every opener he’s played at Alabama, usually by comfortable margins. But the theme this season is attention to detail, to not be “wasting a failure,” not even for a week.

This August didn’t have any quarterback drama, which is good news for everyone and will probably be particularly good news for any sideline reporters who are intrepid enough to ask about it in Atlanta. There was not much August distraction at all, in fact, except
for a smattering of injuries. Maybe more than a smattering, but less than a plague. There is no one available with Josh McMillon’s experience and acumen at inside linebacker but there is young talent. Those are the kind of issues that have to be worked out
in a couple of areas.

The offensive line has to be settled but there are plenty of candidates. On Saturday, FSU transfer Landon Dickerson was working at right guard, but he has also seen time at center. Matt Womack was also getting some first team work as a guard. It’s not fair to
make comparisons but Evan Neal (also working at guard) seems to have a chance at being an instant presence on the line in the Andre Smith/Cam Robinson/Jonah Williams vein, or at least in the Wills/Leatherwood mold. Speaking of those two, Jedrick Wills was
at right tackle and Alex Leatherwood at left tackle, constant presences since the spring. Chris Owens was working at center.

Also worth noting: for the second straight practice, freshman defensive end Justin Eboigbe was not seen in the indoor facility during the media viewing period. Indications are that he has a foot injury of (to the media) unknown severity. Saban is expected to address all injury situations on Monday; Egboigbe’s status is important as he had been working with the first unit for a fairly significant amount of time.

Saban gave his thoughts on the upcoming week at last Thursday’s press conference.

“Now that we’ve started on Duke, the big question is what kind of identity is the team going to create for itself, in terms of what they want to accomplish,” Saban said. “It’s not always about whether you won or lost, but how did you win? It’s how do you play? What is your reputation as a player?”

That’s what this week will be about.

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-722-0225.

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