Who is the best center in Alabama football history? Some would say Vaughn Mancha (1944-47), a member…
Tide Center Sees Changes Coming
Although Ryan Kelly is just an upcoming junior with only one year of starting experience, part of his overall experience as an Alabama football player is that he is working under his third offensive coordinator. Jim McElwain was followed by Doug Nussmeier who has been replaced beginning this spring with Lane Kiffin.
Kelly and his teammates and Kiffin and the rest of Coach Nick Saban's Crimson Tide coaching staff return to spring practice Monday after a week of vacation. Bama went through four practices before The University's spring break. Alabama has 11 spring practice days remaining, including the A-Day Game in Bryant-Denny Stadium on April 19.
Kelly is pleased with what he has seen of practice with Kiffin. "Obviously, I haven't known him that long, but seeing him on the field and being with him in the meeting rooms, he brings a lot to the offense," Kelly said. "Just a great mind as an offensive unit. He really connects well with the players. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the spring with him."
Saban doesn't fool around with spring practice, so Bama players got a quick introduction to how things are going to be. Kelly said he expects "a lot" of change. He said there are new plays and new formations and said that Offensive Line Coach Mario Cristobal has "done a really good job transferring a lot of what Kiffin brings to the table to help the offensive line understand it. For the first couple of weeks, we've just got to base what we learn now off the old offense.
"I think toward the end of the spring we'll be clicking."
Kelly doesn't anticipate Alabama joining the rush to hurry up. But, he said, "Any time you can run more plays, it's good for an offense, right? Obviously we want to practice faster everyday. We want to get more reps in practice. Reps make us better."
But, he said, he expects the offense to be close to what has been at Alabama.
As center, the 6-5, 295-pound Kelly is one of the communications centers for Alabama. And he appreciates its importance. "I think communication is the most important thing," he said. "All 11 guys have to be on the same page. That's why those meetings are so important.
"It starts with the offensive line.
"One of the things we're trying to emphasize is get up to the ball, get down, get set. Last year we were running the clock down to five, four seconds every time. The faster that we can get to the line, get set, let the quarterback look at what he's got to look at, the more time we can have and we're not rushing to make calls last-moment."
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