Some of coach Nick Saban’s takeaways from Alabama’s first spring scrimmage sound familiar.
“I think we have some really good players, we have some guys that can play winning football,” Saban said on Saturday afternoon. “To me, we don’t have enough. We don’t have enough depth on our team. We don’t have enough guys that execute with confidence, playing fast.”
Other moments from his news conference at Bryant-Denny Stadium sounded more atypical.
“I think offensively, for the first scrimmage, we executed pretty well today,” Saban said. “Obviously we have a little more experience.”
It can be standard for a defense to be ahead of the offense early in spring practice. It takes time for rhythm to develop with an offense. One mishap from one offensive player can wreck an entire play; a turnover or negative play can end a series.
But Alabama’s offense might not be behind, even in the early parts of 2019. The Crimson Tide lost three offensive line starters, two key running backs and its top two tight ends, but still return a formidable array of offensive weapons. All-American quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is back, along with his top four wide receivers.
“Tua is obviously the starter,” Saban said. “Mac (Jones) is the guy that has the most experience and got some playing time last year and has made a lot of progress. He’s the guy that can execute best right now as the next-best player. Then we let Taulia (Tagovailoa) play some with the twos. Paul (Tyson) played some as well. So we need to kind of see who’s going to be the next best guy and if anybody can challenge the first two guys. That’s kind of where we are today and that’s how we had it planned.”
Wide receiver Henry Ruggs III, who will be a junior this fall, missed the scrimmage while attending a family member’s funeral. Alabama was also without tight end Kedrick James and outside linebackers Ben Davis and Terrell Lewis, who were off to the side during the open portion of practice. Saban said “a couple” other players participated but wore non-contact jerseys. Statistics from the scrimmage were not available.
Alabama still has seven more practices before the end of spring, including another scrimmage next weekend and the A-Day game on April 13. Alabama still has ample opportunity to find more of the depth Saban is still seeking.
“I think we try to create as many situations as we can in practice,” Saban said. “We practice good against good a lot, so that’s a lot like playing in a game. We do a lot of situational-type things, a lot of two-minute things. We did third down, we did red area, we did goal line, we did coming out, we did several two-minute situations at the end.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.