Tide’s First Fall Scrimmage To Find Players

Nick Saban

There’s another milestone coming for Alabama football fall camp. After a couple of days in helmets, then a couple of days in shells (helmets and shoulder pads), then full gear and two-a-day workouts this week, the Crimson Tide will have its first scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday.

Most people don’t get to see an Alabama scrimmage. Except for the spring A-Day Game, which is more an exhibition game with limited schemes on offense and defense, Bama practices are closed. And that will be the case Saturday.

But Alabama Coach Nick Saban promises the Saturday exercise “will be to evaluate guys as football players and not really worry about trying to make it an exhibition game.”

Alabama is scheduled to have two scrimmages, this Saturday and next Saturday, as the Crimson Tide gears up for the season-opening game against West Virginia in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Aug. 30.

Saban said, “This first scrimmage is really to evaluate players, to see if we can get them in the right positions.

“We’re obviously scrimmaging some situations and do some move-the-field stuff, but I think the real goal and purpose is to say, “Okay, here’s the football players, here’s the guys that can go out there and function, here’s the guys that can help us. Let’s make sure we’re coaching the right guys.”

Saban has always stressed another function of a scrimmage, that being the players being able to make adjustments. “The coaches aren’t in the huddle, the coaches aren’t making the calls,” Saban said. The players are on their own to see things like blocking assignments and coverage responsibilities.

“Which guys can function in that situation,” Saban said. “It’s just another step of how close are undefined to being ready to play.”

Although there is the possibility of rain Saturday, the main weather feature is expected to be continuing hot weather.

That wasn’t the case Thursday when there was one practice in the indoor facility. The result?

“Practice was fantastic today,” Saban said. “But didn’t have to deal with the same circumstances, didn’t take the same kind of mental toughness to go out there and deal with the situation that we have to play in here quite a bit.”

The Tide had two practices scheduled Friday before Saturday’s scrimmage.

Saban said, “We have a lot of guys that have done a really good job in camp. It’s difficult circumstances. I think everybody gets a little tired, probably, after three or four practices. Then it becomes a matter of how much mental toughness, how much perseverance, how important is it to you to continue to push yourself so that you can continue to make progress.

“You’re either getting better when you go out to practice, or you get worse. You don’t stay the same.

“People who go out there and try to cope with practice and endure practice, they usually don’t make a whole lot of improvement.

“The guys that push themselves in practice are the guys that improve the most.”

He said that players have to ask themselves if they are “really giving my best, or am I just kind of enduring?”.

And he said that the more players who are pushing themselves, the better Bama will be.

As would be expected, Saban said older players do a better job than do “some of the younger guys.”

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