ATLANTA – No questions had been asked of Nick Saban, but he was prepared with an answer.
“You can describe our team as, we have a uniform in Alabama,” he said Wednesday in his opening statement at SEC Media Days. “It doesn’t change much, it doesn’t reveal anything, and it’s kind of who we are. So that’s a lot about where our team is right now.”
There’s still time for those questions with 45 days until the season opener against Louisville in Orlando. There are pieces Saban feels good about, citing the returning talent at offensive line and running back as strengths.
But the defense must replace almost the entire secondary as well as key players at defensive line and linebacker. The special teams will feature a new kicker and new punter.
“It’s not been determined how that’s all going to work out for us,” Saban said.
That’s to say nothing of the six new assistant coaches, or the new offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator. Saban’s triptych “faith, trust and confidence” phrase wasn’t used once. That will have to come later in the season.
Saban did say he is confident in Mike Locksley’s ability as an offensive coordinator, and liked the teamwork between co-defensive coordinators Tosh Lupoi and Pete Golding. The early returns from the new assistant coaches on the recruiting trail have been impressive. Spring practice with the new coaching staff was encouraging.
“I am really pleased with the transition, how the players have sort of responded from relationship standpoint with all of those coaches, how those coaches have done a very good job of buying into the things that we want to do and how we want to do them,” Saban said. “The new energy and enthusiasm and ideas that they brought to the organization I think are going to be a long-term positive.”
Other questions, particularly those about the quarterbacks, brought terser answers.
The coach hit the high points as well, mentioning a school-record 12 draft picks this spring. Saban made use of his time to mention APR scores, graduation rates, first-round draft picks and other measurements of player development.
But that also brings a question of its own. With 10 defensive players signing NFL contracts, there are spots that will need to be filled when practice begins Aug. 3. The next stage in development is about to begin.
“A lot of the questions that you’re going to ask me about these young players and how they develop, they are all things that are yet to be determined,” Saban said. “They’re still going to be determined in the future in terms of how they develop over the rest of the summer, how they do in fall camp, and when they develop the maturity to go out and play winning football for us.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.