08 August 2010
Fan day kicks off this afternoon, but it was really Media Morning - the only time this season you'll see Kirby Smart and Jim McElwain in front of microphones.
Coach Saban led off, and talked about how pleased he was with practice thus far, and it's clear that the football nerd inside him was especially satisfied with the presence of shoulder pads in yesterday afternoon's practice. That gave coaches the opportunity to work on (among other things) "blocking protection, blocking technique, form tackling and hand placement." He said that the progress to this point was especially encouraging, considering how "easy it is [with the heat] to just endure practice and not try and improve." The staff puts a priority on challenging the players to "win every day" - meaning that everyone has to take every opportunity to improve.
More from the conference after the jump.
On the injury front, Coach Saban only talked about Kendall Kelly, who is still being held out of practice. Apparently during practice the other evening, Kendall started having what has been referred to previously as "heat issues". Saban elaborated today, saying that Kelly had issues with dizziness. He's not in the hospital - but the staff is monitoring him.
Asked to give some reasons about SEC dominance lately, Saban that you "could write a book about that." He then went on to cite tradition, excellent coaching, the caliber of the football players and athletes the schools are able to atrract and, finally, the league office and the work they've done to progress the league.
Then, Jim McElwain stepped to the podium and took over for a bit. McElwain elicited laughter from the press corps a number of times (as usual), but never louder than when he was asked about choosing to stay at Alabama. "The biggest reason I'm back is because nobody really wanted me anywhere else," quipped the coach. He went on say that the University, Coach Saban and the entire staff, and his family were all reasons he was happy to be back. He noted that he had one daughter at the University already, and was encouraging his high school senior daughter to join her on campus. He also has a son who will start varsity football this year.
He rounded out that conversation by saying that "hopefully, one day, we'll get an opportunity to captain our own ship - and see how I can screw that up."
He talked briefly about last season, saying that one of the key factors with the offense was to put last year behind them - reminging them that "we're 0-0 right now".
The offensive staff is particularly excited about the center and left tackle positions (returning veterans William Vlachos and James Carpenter), noting that they'd taken a real leadership role. Moments later, he went on to also single out Barret Jones (right guard) who's done a great job helping along DJ Fluker (right tackle). Fluker has lost a lot of weight in the 12 months he's been on campus - and we'll have more on that later.
McElwain also had praise for the younger Tide quarterbacks - AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims - who readily understand the importance of having a mentor like Greg McElroy on campus. "It's great for those guys to learn to quarterback from a guy who clearly knows how to win," and they've spent lots of time with McElroy. It was interesting at this point, how often McCarron and Sims are mentioned in the same breath; McElroy did it later as well. It's clear that everyone is very impressed with Sims. It'll be very interesting to see how many reps he gets this afternoon.
Also on the subject of quarterbacks, McElroy noted that the Tide would hope to play the backup sooner than later this fall - like last season when Star Jackson saw two minute drill action at the end a first half.
An intesting thought McElwain had was the importance of finding someone to replace Roy Upchurch. He was the only departure that I recall McElwain singling out by name, noting that he did an excellent job for Bama last year in that role.
McElwain briefly discussed how important the tight ends were to the offense, and talked very briefly about how Preston Dial and Brad Smelley would be used predominantly in the H position (motion out of the backfield) and Michael Williams and Chris Underwood would be used more on the line of scrimmage. Williams and Underwood in particular drew praise for their offseason work.
Kirby Smart then came on to discuss the defense. Smart laughed that the secondary reminded him of his first year at Alabama - it's a very very green unit. He also talked a bit about depth on the line, noting that while they did have some depth, there was very little experience.
When asked if that lack of experience on defense would mean a trimmed down playbook, Smart said that the players would be continually challenged. If they got things, great. If not, they'd be in their face with it again. But at the end of the day, if it's not working in practice, it won't be in the gameplan.
When asked about why he stayed instead of leaving for his alma mater, Smart talked first about how Georgia has a very special place in his heart (and his wife's heart). They both went there, and Smart has tremendous respect for Mark Richt. But, when it came down to it, he's learned a lot from Coach Saban, and he and his family love Tuscaloosa. Finally, he noted that he felt a great deal of loyalty to the players he'd recruited to Alabama.
He closed by noting that Dont'a Hightower "looks better this fall, but still has a ways to go." That's not exactly how Dont'a put it - "I feel great. The knee is 100%". But we'll get a bit more from the player interviews in a bit. Right now, I'm headed back to the heat of Bryant Denny for a little barbeque and then watch actual practice. I'll be back with a report from the player interviews and the practice later this afternoon.
|< Prev||Next >|