In his previous press conference, Nick Saban called out his defense. To be more specific, Saban questioned the leadership of his defense and the lack of “alphas” on that side of the ball.
After Saturday’s scrimmage, the first of spring, you get the sense that some of that anxiety stems from the defensive line, a unit Saban fretted about a bit.
“We’re looking for who can play on that side and who can help us and where we can find some depth because that is a bit of an issue for us right now,” Saban said.
The Crimson Tide has a known quantity in Raekwon Davis, who hasn’t been 100 percent this spring, but there are also plenty of question marks in terms of depth. That’s why Saban and his staff signed Tevita Musika for the fall.
For now, though, Saban said the team is relying on young, relatively inexperienced players.
“We played (Quinnen) Williams a little bit at nose and five technique,” Saban said. “And the young players (Phidarian Mathis and Stephon Wynn) we’re playing at nose and five technique to try to see where they fit best.”
Cornerback Trevon Diggs didn’t play during the scrimmage and wide receiver Jerry Jeudy was out too. Saban said Diggs would likely return for the second scrimmage next weekend but that Jeudy would not. DeVonta Smith, who has worked in the secondary and at his natural wide receiver position during spring, took repetitions at both.
Evaluating the offensive line, Saban explained that recent moves along the line could have set the team back short term.
“We probably had too much pressure on the quarterback at time,” he said. “We have to do a better job in pass protection, and we were able to run the ball fairly consistently. I think (us) moving some guys around on the offensive line probably helps us long term and maybe doesn’t necessarily help us play best today. We moved Alex (Leatherwood) from left tackle to right tackle to get him experience playing both sides. Jedrick (Wills) is playing right tackle and right guard. He hasn’t played guard for a while.
“We’re moving guys around. We played Lester (Cotton) at right guard and left guard. We have to find out what the best combinations are. That becomes a work in progress when you move guys around. You can’t just assume because a guy can play tackle that when he goes and play guard it’s not going to take some reps because things happen a little quicker inside and you have to be able to react a little better.”
On special teams, redshirt freshman Joseph Bulovas made 4 of 5 field goals.
“They weren’t chip shots,” Saban said. “I think only one of those was inside the 20-yard line, the rest of those were 35- to 45-yarders, so that was encouraging. He had a couple of good kickoffs.
“I think from a punting standpoint, we had some good punts and we had some punts that we need to speed up the operation as well as the consistency and how we hit the ball. But I think more than anybody out there on the field today, and I thought Joe handled it pretty well, when you have bad conditions how is it going to affect the specialists. I thought Joe handled it pretty well.”
Alabama media relations did not release statistics from the scrimmage. Saban did not mention any injuries.
Reach Aaron Suttles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.