Perhaps no aspect of special teams is more important than timing. Of course, that’s likely true of any aspect of football, where precision is the name of the game.

However, the timing of a snap affects the timing of a kick or a punt, which affects the rhythm of the kicker/punter, which determines if a field goal is good and if a punt is productive.

Alabama has enjoyed successful long snappers in the decade Nick Saban’s been the head coach. From Brian Selman to Carson Tinker to Cole Mazza, the long snappers in the Saban era have done their job.

Now it’s up to freshman Thomas Fletcher or someone else in the competition to continue the tradition of excellence.

Then there is the competition for kicker, shaping up between freshman Joseph Bulovas, Andy Pappanastos and, in the case of emergency, JK Scott.

All told, there is much work to be done and Saban will be watching Saturday’s scrimmage carefully to see who performs best.

“I think we have work to do there. I really do,” Saban said of the kickers and long snappers. “I think the timing of what we’re doing, not only with the specialists but also with the other special teams players. Whether it’s operation time, whether it’s blocking schemes, all these things we’re working really hard on.

“I think the snappers are certainly capable of throwing strikes. It’s getting the other parts of it right. I think there’s good competition at the long snapper position. We’re looking at several people and same thing with field goal (kickers). I think it’ too early to tell but I think what happens on Saturday probably tells us a little more than what’s happened in practice.”

Pappanastos, a transfer from Ole Miss, missed two field goals (both from less than 40 yards) during A-Day.

Bulovas, recruited out of Louisiana, made 11 of 25 during his high school career, including a long of 52 yards as a sophomore. He was 68 of 76 on PATs.

Needless to say Saban and the coaching staff will be analyzing the scrimmage carefully.

“Can a guy deliver?” Saban said. “It’s one thing to go out there and kick field goals on air. It’s another thing when there are 11 guys rushing and a lot of stuff happening around you. You got to get a good snap, a good hold and good operation time. You have to get a good zone relative to all those things so that you can execute properly.

“That’s what we’re in the process of working on, and we’re trying to make evaluations about that between now and the first game.”

Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0229.

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