“We’ve been having a little bit of issues with the weather, trying to get outside but finally today we got to have a full practice outside, which was a good thing. Last few days, we do heavy install for five practices, then we try to go back and review and work on fundamentals. That’s something we’ve tried to do these last couple days but I think some of the younger players are probably getting a little bit of football overload going on about this time. I think it’s really important that we do a good job as coaches to help teach those guys the thing that they need to do to understand how they need to react and what they need to do to be able to play winning football here. I think as a team, everybody needs to look at the opportunity that we have as a team. We’re all blessed to be here, no doubt but with that comes a tremendous burden relative to the standard that we create and that we expect to play to. That takes a whole lot of perseverance and hard work and ability to overcome adversity and competitive spirit from every individual player. We need them to make the right choices and decisions about what they do. They’re making an investment in the team but they’re also making an investment in the team. I think these lessons they learn make a positive toward their future and their ability to be successful in life. That’s something that we keep working to try and build with our players.
“Saturday’s scrimmage… Obviously, I say this every year but when you have the first scrimmage, especially with the young players, really important to see who can take the knowledge and experience that they’ve gained in the short amount of time that they’ve been here and be able to go out and execute without a coach standing behind them or helping them know what to do. Then making a mistake and being able to react to that mistake and playing the next play. It’s going to be a lot about personnel evaluation in a lot of cases. We haven’t really tried to make a lot of personnel decisions in terms of what team a guy is on. We’re really focused on how many guys can we get ready to play winning football.
“I think there are two guys that are injured today. Jamey Mosley is in concussion protocol. VanDarius Cowan has a back injury that flared up on him from high school. He’s making his way back. Anyone have any questions?”
We saw Henry Ruggs fielding punts on Saturday. What has he shown you to be trusted as a true freshman in return game?
“I guess you don’t really, truly trust anybody until you see them do it in a game, but he’s done a nice job in practice. He’s got really good ball judgment, he’s very explosive and he’s instinctive as a runner. We have a little more experience back there with a couple guys that did it last year. So I feel a little more comfortable in that part of it. I think kickoff return is an area where we also have to get somebody that can do it and we’re working Henry at that as well.”
Levi Wallace, what part of his game has distinguished himself?
“I think Levi is one of the guys that we’re looking to create a role for. He’s certainly in competition at corner. We have guys playing that position, Anthony is coming off an injury and the other guy has never started, really. So he’s in competition at that position. We tried to teach him how to play star so he could have a role in that position and he did a nice job, but it’s hard to rep him in all these places. Levi is a smart guy, he’s a team guy, he’s done a really good job of it. I think we’re going to let him focus at corner for the next couple of days. He’s a very smart player that has done a good job when he’s had an opportunity and certainly had a good camp so far.”
How are young guys coming along at kicker, long snapper on special teams?
“I think we have work to do there. I really do. I think the timing of what we’re doing, not only with the specialists but also with the other special teams players. Whether it’s operation time, whether it’s blocking schemes, all these things we’re working really hard on. I think the snappers are certainly capable of throwing strikes. It’s getting the other parts of it right. I think there’s good competition at the long snapper position. We’re looking at several people and same thing with field goal (kickers). I think it’ too early to tell but I think what happens on Saturday probably tells us a little more than what’s happened in practice.”
Robert Foster’s role on the offense and as a leader?
“Everybody is working hard out there to try and create a role for themselves, and certainly Robert has done that. I’ve liked his attitude. Robert is a fast guy who’s very explosive. I think there are certain things that he could do really well for us. I know Brian will use him the best way that he can to feature some of those abilities and talentes. Robert’s consistency in performance is going to be the key to the drill and that’s something he’s working hard on, we’re working hard on with him. He’s done a really good job so far.”
How have you seen Rashaan Evans grow as a player and a leader going into his senior year?
“Rashaan has certainly done a really good job for us. He kind of played defensive end, outside linebacker. That’s kind of what we recruited him as. He’s a really good pass rusher. We converted him to inside backer and he’s made fantastic progress at that. Really shown a lot of leadership on the field. Has really good knowledge and experience now relative to what he’s supposed to do, how he’s supposed to do it making calls. I think there’s a lot of guys that look to his leadership to be important in the development of our defense. He’s certainly done a good job of that to this point.”
How do you evaluate young kickers and look at them in particular situations?
“You watch it closely all the time. It’s all a part of it. Can a guy deliver? It’s one thing to go out there and kick field goals on air. It’s another thing when there are 11 guys rushing and a lot of stuff happening around you. You got to get a good snap, a good hold and good operation time. You have to get a good zone relative to all those things so that you can execute properly. That’s what we’re in the process of working on, and we’re trying to make evaluations about that between now and the first game.”
Josh Rosen made some comments about the demands of being a student athlete. How have you seen those change over time?
“I don’t know that it’s changed a whole lot. We used to have two-a-days every day. We don’t have any two-a-days anymore. We don’t spend anymore time in fall camp than what we did when I played as a player. We don’t practice any longer during the course of the week. Look, I look at it the other way. We had 23, 29 and 22 guys play with their degrees over the last three years in their last game playing at Alabama. So, that means a lot of guys — even though football may be difficult, no one is here saying that it isn’t. No one is saying that school is not very difficult. No one is saying that getting a college education is not very difficult. But for a lot of those guys, being good football players is what created an opportunity for them to make a tremendous invest in their futures by graduating from school. I think that is a really, really good thing. Is it difficult? Probably. Was it difficult to me? Absolutely. I don’t think it’s any more difficult. It’s just never been easy. But I do think the reward of it all, the lessons that are learned being a part of a team, the lessons that are learned being a competitor in an environment like this or any college football program, the work ethic, the perseverance, the ability to overcome adversity, the lessons that you learn in life, I mean how valuable can those things be?
“I mean everyday, you’re making a deposit for your future and your chances of being successful for your future. I think the difficulty and the sacrifice is well worth what it creates for a lot of players. I’m proud of the fact that we’ve graduated at a very high rate relative to everybody else — one of the top schools in the country. That’s our goal, to create value for our players. It is an opportunity. With an opportunity comes a burden. The burden is not necessarily easy so I get that. And you do it for your teammates and you do it for your future and your opportunity to be successful because you have a goal and an aspiration for what you want to accomplish and what you want to do in your life. I think it can make you a better parent. I think it can make you a better employee someday. I think it can make you a better at a lot of things.”
What’s your philosophy with bringing former players around the program again?
“First of all, those guys did a great job of representing the University of Alabama and the football program here. Those guys have the right stuff in terms of what we’re looking for to help the next guy develop the kind of characteristics that’s going to help them be successful. I’m very loyal to our players. We probably have a half of dozen guys around here now that have played for us in the past. They understand the culture, they understand how we do things, they buy into it and they believe in it. I’m happy to have them back if they want to be coaches or be in the strength and conditioning program or get in some kind of athletic administration, we certainly want to help them have the opportunity to do that. I think that because we have other guys at other places now that are head coaches, maybe some of our guys can someday grow into opportunities there as well.”
What’s your philosophy on staff sizes and how many folks you have helping assistants?
“My philosophy is we should be able to have whatever staff size we want to have. I mean whatever we’re willing to invest because we’re investing in the players. Everybody thinks we’re creating a competitive advantage, but really what we’re investing in is the players. Whether it’s academic support folks, whether it’s administrators, whether it’s player development coaches, all these things help us have the kind of program where players can have a better chance to be successful in life. I think we should be able to have whatever we want. If somebody else doesn’t like it, they should hire more people too.”
You and Coach Pruitt have both worked with Jimbo Fisher. How will that play into the game?
“I think the game is going to be about the players. They have a lot of good players. They have a really good team coming back. They’ve got a lot of experienced players coming back. Jimbo does a great job of coaching. I think there’s a lot of philosophical togetherness that we grew up with that he believes in and that I believe in. I think both teams will reflect that kind of toughness and competitive spirit. But I don’t think the game is going to be about the coaches. I think it’s going to be about the players. I think he’ll do a good job of trying to get his players ready to play the game. We’ll do the best job we can to get our team ready to play the game. The players will go out there on the field, and whoever can execute the best will have the best opportunity to be successful. So I think the game is about the players, not about the coaches.”