The calendar turns from July to August. Nick and Terry Saban host their annual luncheon for the Nick’s Kids Foundation. The football season is arriving soon.

“(Players) are reporting today,” coach Nick Saban said on Thursday. “They start camp today. The challenge of the season is here.”

Friday is the first day of football practice for Alabama as the Crimson Tide officially begins its 2018 season. The team will go through 20 practices and scrimmages in the coming weeks before shifting into a standard game week schedule for its season opener against Louisville on Sept. 1.

That fall camp will include Fan Day festivities on Saturday and two scrimmages along the way. It will be the first opportunity for some newcomers to make an impression on the coaching staff and earn playing time. It’ll also be the time for some returning players to establish themselves as reliable contributors, and for some veterans to emerge as leaders.

There are questions on the defense, which is replacing the entire secondary as well as top draft picks at linebacker and defensive line. Special teams will feature a new kicker and punter.

That’s not to forget the irresistible questions about quarterbacks. Those questions will be followed by the inescapable answer that nothing has been decided at the position yet.

Saban will be managing a coaching staff with six new assistants. Both offensive and defensive coordinators are returning coaches, but in their first year as play callers.

Other situations will also arise between now and Sept. 1. But for now, there’s plenty of work for Alabama to begin.

“There’s a lot of things to be determined between now and the first game and now into the season progressing as to where this team can go,” Saban said at SEC Media Days in July.

Reach Ben Jones at or 205-722-0196.