The competition at Alabama spring football practice is about to move down the street and up a notch.
The football team will leave the practice fields and head to Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday for the first scrimmage of spring. The scrimmage is closed to the public; spring will conclude with the A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on April 13.
“You always want to compete,” wide receiver Henry Ruggs III said. “Even with practices and a scrimmage, you don’t really have a live period where we’re moving the ball and things like that. But once we have that scrimmage then you can actually see where the team is and what kind of competitors we are.”
It’s the first opportunity for the 2019 team to scrimmage and the first time several of Alabama’s early enrollees will suit up to play at Bryant-Denny Stadium. There will still be seven more practices and scrimmages this spring following Saturday, but there’s still value to be had in a game-like environment. Coach Nick Saban said earlier this week he wants to see more consistent leadership develop.
“You don’t turn leadership on and off,” Saban said earlier this week. “You don’t do it during a scrimmage and not do it every day. You do it on the field, you do it off the field.”
The scrimmage is an opportunity for individual players to demonstrate their case for moving up the depth chart or to begin solidifying a role, though the season is still months away. New assistant coaches can be acquainted with the routine they’ll use on Saturdays in the fall.
There’s also still time for teaching and learning during the first scrimmage. Some scrimmages can be closer to the setup for a game, but spring still leaves time for young players to stop and learn.
“I’ve really been pleased with the progress that we’ve been able to make,” Saban said. “A lot of guys have picked up things quickly. There’s kind of a sort of nice blend of some experienced players and some younger players, having 15 midyear guys this year. A lot of young guys who have made a significant amount of improvement and some of the old guys have certainly contributed to that.
“Obviously, we’ve got a long way to go in terms of some of the things that we want to try to accomplish. I think depth just about at every position probably would be something of significance. I still think there’s a lot of competition at a lot of positions, and I’ve really been pleased with the attitude and the way the players have been going around practice. Their energy has been really good. They’re working to try to do the little things right, finish plays, pay attention to detail, learn, support each other. So, I’m really pleased with that.”
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.