Around the country, many college football teams have broken camp and are moving into game preparation. That’s partly predicated on the start of classes. Alabama has done some work on its season-opener against Virginia Tech on Aug. 31, but that’s a regular part of fall camp. Camp is not over, and right now it is very difficult and also very important.
Alabama football players stay in a dormitory during fall camp, which has been going on for almost two weeks. With the approach of classes, and this weekend being “move in day” around campus, the players are moving out of the dorm and into their regular living quarters.
But that doesn’t mean camp is over.
“Camp doesn’t end until camp ends,” Alabama Coach Nick Saban said Thurdsay. “And camp doesn’t end until school starts. School doesn’t really start until next week, so we’ll continue with our meetings and all the things that we do.”
One of those things is the second and final scrimmage of the year at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday.
The Tide coach said there would be a “little preparation” for the scrimmage. He said the scrimmage “might be a little more game-like in terms of sideline organization so players have a little more knowledge of what to expect when the real game comes, but really, not a lot different.”
Not only is camp still under way, Saban said, “I think that this is always the most difficult week in camp, but it’s also the most important week in camp because the focus is really on improvement. Whether it’s technique, assignments – so that we don’t make mental errors – whether we can improve in our ability to execute, be responsible, do your job, understand your role better, continue your development as a player. But it also happens at a time when a guy is probably most challenged in terms of how he feels physically, whatever.
“Really, you’ve got to do the right thing, the right way, the right time, all the time, no matter how you feel, no matter what you do. And every time you feel like you can’t go any more, or you’re tired, you’re hurt or you’re sore, you’ve got to be able to say ‘no.’ You’ve got to say ‘no.’
“When you’re not going to do the right thing you’ve got to say ‘no.’ Anybody out there doing anything, I don’t care what it is – driving too fast – just say ‘no.’ Same thing with this. No different. You’ve got to make yourself keep going. You can’t give in to it.
“That’s how you push yourself. That’s how you get better. You can’t be a player that’s worried about, “Oh, I might not be ready for the first game.’ We’ve always done a pretty good job here of giving players enough time off to recover and get ready for the first game.
“What our focus needs to be on right now is what we need to do to improve – focus, finish plays, eliminate mental errors.
“We’ve been trying to expose our players to a lot of different game situations at the end of every practice so that they learn how to manage those. Because no matter how many times you do them, seems like there’s always something that comes up that you’re not ready for.”
Saban said the scrimmage would not have live kicking, other than “we’ll try to block punts.”
He pointed out that Alabama returns placekicker Cade Foster and punter Cody Mandell and that kick return men – Dee Hart, Christion Jones, and Cyrus Jones – are also back.
“We never, ever, have practiced kicking live,” Saban said. “We practice it and practice it full speed, but we never practice it live. We probably won’t do that again. We’ve never really ever done that. But I’m pretty pleased with where we are with our return game.”
Saban said the kickers “have done a really good job. Cade was 4-for-4 in the last scrimmage and I think hit a long one or two, and Adam Griffith was 4-of-6 and one of the ones he missed was a really long one. They've been a little more consistent on kickoff. I've been pleased with both of them and I think both are very capable.”
Saban was asked if there had any exceptionally good or exceptionally bad aspects of fall camp.
“I don't really think of it that way,” Saban said. “Every day you evaluate every play on the field and you look at all the film of practice. You evaluate all that. You take notes on every player. You evaluate every player. You make a list of things you want to talk to the guys about, make sure that we're doing it correctly at each position and individually, whether it's techniques or whatever. You're almost engulfed with the details of what you need to do to improve, not that you're not doing the same thing when it comes to positive performance in terms of guys who are doing a good job. It's so sort of microscopic in the way you're looking at every individual play....
“I can't really say there's one really big thing that happened in camp and one really bad thing that happened in camp. I think it's a combination of a lot of good things, and a lot of things need to be improved and need to be addressed and need to be done better.
“The ultimate goal is that we reach our full potential, and for us to do that we need the most guys that we possibly can individually to play to a high level and set a standard and be able to sustain it. So that's what we're trying to create and what we're trying to work toward. You're not disappointed in where you are now. Do I think we're there with enough guys? No, we're still a work in progress.”