TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Coming out of the second spring scrimmage, the No. 1 goal for Alabama football coach Nick Saban was to self-assess.
That’s what Saban challenged the Crimson Tide’s coaching staff and players to do as the team heads into its final week of spring practice.
“If you’re a player, self-assess how much did I improve from last week to this week because that’s really the focus for our team right now is how do we grow, how do we develop, how do we get more guys to play winning football?” Saban said. “I saw a lot of progress in some areas, some areas maybe not as much.”
Saban provided a full breakdown of all 3 phases after the first scrimmage.
Saban wasn’t pleased with the backups after the first scrimmage. He thought the young players often looked confused without the coaches not helping them every step of the way last week. The young players improved Friday.
“I thought at times the 2s, the second rep group, a lot of guys made a significant improvement and really played a lot better and competed a lot better against the first rep chart, which was encouraging in a lot of ways,” Saban said. “That is an encouraging part of the depth on the team. I was really encouraged with that.”
Defensively, Saban liked the way Alabama football tackled in the first scrimmage. This week, not so much.
Saban believes improving on tackling starts with cleaning up practice habits.
“I thought we had more missed tackles this week, which means since we’re playing against ourself maybe the offense was a little better at running after the catch or breaking some tackles on some runs,” Saban said. “But I didn’t think the tackling was quite as crisp as what it was a week ago.
“I think that goes back to how players practice and how they prepare to do that because we don’t tackle in practice so you’ve got to get yourself in position to thud properly, and that’s a thing that’s really easy not to do in practice, to get by with.”
Saban thought there was “a little more juice” on defense, but wanted better tackling.
Offensively, Saban felt there was “good balance” as the group made explosive plays, including “a couple of explosive runs, which there was an absence of a week ago.”
From a special teams standpoint, Saban said the punters and kickers were “pretty good.” He was especially pleased with a blocked field goal, which he called a “really good effort” by the defense.
“A lot of good things to look to to build on and also some things that we certainly need to improve on,” Saban said.