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Nick Saban stands by Alabama football players' approach to Monday march against racial injustice

Brett Hudson
Tide Sports
University of Alabama football Coach Nick Saban speaks at a social justice rally in front of Foster Auditorium, the site of the famous stand in the Schoolhouse Door to voice his support for social justice Monday, August 31, 2020, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Then Governor George Wallace made his famous stand in this doorway to attempt to prevent the integration of the university. Football players at Alabama staged the march and rally to support Black Lives Matter and issues of social justice. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

TUSCALOOSA — Not all was positive from the University of Alabama’s march Monday against racial injustice. For all the unity and empowering words spoken at the schoolhouse door of Foster Auditorium, there was vitriol and criticism, specifically on social media. UA coach Nick Saban’s own daughter, Kristen Saban Setas, experienced it herself.

Saban is not interested in the backlash.

Saban defended the team and athletic department’s actions in his Wednesday press conference via Zoom.

“I don’t have an opinion about everybody else’s opinion. We try to do the right things, we try to provide positive leadership for our players,” Saban said. “I don’t think they’ve ever come out and said they support any organization, good, bad or indifferent. They support concepts of things that can be done in the future.”

Tucker impressing

In adding graduate transfer Carl Tucker from North Carolina, Alabama set an expectation for involvement from its tight ends that it did not have in last year’s offense, given Tucker was UNC’s third-leading receiver in 2018. Tucker’s practices to date have not changed anyone’s minds.

“Carl’s done a really good job,” Saban said. “He’s a very good blocker, he’s got some explosive power, he’s got some toughness. He’s a good receiver, got good hands, he’s a smart guy. I think his experience has helped him adapt very quickly to the offense and I certainly think that he’s going to contribute to our team in a very positive way this year.”

Emerging wide receivers 

Saban said Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle have done well in assuming the top wide receiver roles vacated by Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III. Saban was also complimentary of a trio of players that could step into the third and fourth receiver roles previously manned by Smith and Waddle.

“(John) Metchie has done a really, really good job, we have a lot of confidence in him,” Saban said. “Slade Bolden has done a good job, we have confidence in him. Those are are sort of the experienced guys, and then those freshmen, Javon Baker has shown promise.”

Saban added Baker has benefited from continuity, as the freshman that has missed the fewest number of practices.

Metchie and Bolden were well-positioned to take bigger roles, as they were fifth and sixth among UA wide receivers in receiving yards last year: Metchie catching four passes for 23 yards and Bolden catching two for 34. Bolden made a bigger impact as a wildcat quarterback, running four times for 10 yards. 

Inching closer 

As UA approaches a game week, now just three Saturdays removed from its season opener at Missouri, Saban said the staff has shifted its practice regimen to acclimate the players to in-season work.

“Our No. 1 goal and priority is to sort of emulate what an in-season week would be like,” Saban said. “Tough practices on Tuesday and Wednesday, not really practicing on Friday, another tough practice which would be a game on Saturday – even though we may not have a real scrimmage on Saturday – but some game-like situations we want the players to experience.”

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