A week later, Nick Saban’s words on Antonio Alfano remain strong.

When the University of Alabama football coach last addressed the freshman defensive lineman, who has mostly been absent from practice since the beginning of the regular season, Saban said Alfano had, “disappeared.” Since then, the Alfano family released a string of tweets saying it was dealing with Antonio’s grandmother falling ill. The family also said Alfano had asked to be in the transfer portal, although that has not happened as of Wednesday night.

Saban addressed the situation again in his Wednesday press conference.

“Well I don’t really know much about that (the family statement), I just know that the guy basically quit,” Saban said. “He quit going to class, he quit coming here, we tried to help him, we tried to encourage him, we tried to set up counseling sessions with him to help him in every way we could and all those things are still available to him if he wants them, but he didn’t respond to any of the things. Until he responds, you just have to assume the guy quit.”

Alfano was one of the most highly rated members of UA’s 2019 recruiting class. His absence is a significant one for a defensive front seven that has taken on its fair share of injuries, including a recent one to a starting defensive lineman.

Ray out at least six weeks

Saban said in his Wednesday evening press conference that starting defensive lineman LaBryan Ray will be out for at least six weeks after he had foot surgery.

“I’m not saying he’s going to be back playing in six weeks, I’m just saying I know it will be six weeks before we can even start back to things,” Saban said.

Offensive line philosophy

UA has already seen some shifting on its offensive line, when Chris Owens’ injury forced him to miss a game. Two offensive line spots changed in the aftermath, as Landon Dickerson moved to center and Matt Womack took over at right guard.

The line could see more shifting in the future, with junior Deonte Brown set to reenter the active roster after the Southern Miss game ends his four-game suspension. The traditional line of thinking in football is offensive lines benefit from time together as a unit, thus this shuffling would hurt the unit long term, but Saban doesn’t see it that way.

“Well, I know it’s always been the perception of a lot of folks, including you folks in the media who I have a lot of respect for, that you need to have five starters in the offensive line that play together and work together,” Saban said. “But actually what happens in reality is you don’t always have the same five guys. You want to have guys that have diversity and can play different positions, and those guys actually have to practice together in practice, so it’s not as uncommon, I think, that if you do have to move somebody around that these guys are out of touch with playing with the guy next to him.

“Although I do think in the offensive line, continuity can be beneficial because guys can sort of develop confidence in playing with each other, making line calls. You do a lot of things working together in the offensive line in terms of who you’re blocking and how you’re blocking them.”

Brown is not the only one that could change things. Saban has been impressed by the work of freshman Darrian Dalcourt, the backup center.

“He has already helped us, and he will help us. He’s developing very nicely,” Saban said. “He’s a great character person, very bright, intelligent, understands the position. We have a lot of confidence in him and the way he’s developed. He has played in games and he’s getting himself in a position where we have a lot of confidence in him as a backup center, for sure.”

Practice notes

Outside linebacker Terrell Lewis was back on the field Wednesday as UA practiced indoors. That and more can be found in the full practice report.

Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or bhudson@tuscaloosanews.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson

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