14 August 2008
I noticed in nxojkt's latest practice observations that seven wideouts are getting most of the work, and Nikita Stover is not one of them. That's a bit odd, considering that Stover has made more big plays in actual games than all the other wideouts on the team put together.
Word on the street is that Stover is not known as a guy who leaves everything he's got on the practice field every day. Now every coach wants his guys to practice hard, but the general rule is that, once you figure out who actually plays best in games, that's who you go with. There have been some awfully good football players who were known to loaf a bit during practice when they could get away with it.
Saban doesn't seem to follow the general rule. Apparently, if you are the best player on Saban's practice field, you get to start. Period.
Now I'm not a guy who thinks that Saban's right about everything just because he's obviously a good coach overall. And here, where Saban seems to be lined up against the conventional wisdom on a particular point, I'm skeptical.
Put another way, I'm skeptical that Mike McCoy's first-team status and Nikita Stover's outhouse status is an accurate reflection of those two guys' comparative game-day worth, and I'd like to see Stover getting some touches when it counts.
On the other hand, there's certainly a logic to what appears to be Saban's way. Build your team the way you want it built on the practice field and that is more likely to translate into a similar team effort on game day.
If something is a routine, it's easier to replicate under pressure. So if doing things right and giving 100% effort becomes routine, it figures that it will be easier to do things right and give 100% effort in the big games that really count, the Iron Bowls, the SEC championship games . . . and yes, we're Bama fans and not afraid to say what we want, the BCS championship games.
So I'm skeptical, but not at all convinced one way or another. This whole concept of playing practice-field warriors over game-day warriors is something I'll be monitoring closely - both to gauge Saban and his abilities, and to learn something about the game and how a team can prepare to play it well.