TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama moved inside to its indoor facility for Thursday’s practice.
Alabama begins preparations for the season opener vs. USC on Friday. Alabama has just two more practices (Friday and Saturday) before game week begins. Here’s everything you need to know from Thursday’s workout and Nick Saban’s time at the podium.
- Saban said offensive lineman Alphonse Taylor is “day-to-day” with an injury, but wouldn’t reveal what the injury is.
“Shank is the only guy that hasn’t practiced. He’s kind of day to day, missed the last two days but not anything that’s serious so we hope to get him back soon. So his status for the game has still not been determined from my standpoint anyway.” — Saban
- Wide receiver Cam Sims (knee) appeared to be limited again on Thursday. Sims participated in some drills, but sat out others.
- Linebacker Keith Holcombe (ankle) worked with his position group, and didn’t show any signs of being limited. Holcombe was a little limited during Tuesday and Wednesday’s practices.
What we saw
- Wide receiver Gehrig Dieter changed his number to 11 on Thursday. Dieter had been wearing No. 14.
- Scouts from the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos watched practice.
What Saban said … What we think it means
On if there has been any talk of playing two quarterbacks
“No, we haven’t had any discussion about that yet. … It’s a pretty simple question and pretty simple answer. Like I’d tell you if we were going to.” — Saban
What we think it means: Alabama has definitely had discussions of playing two quarterbacks. Nick Saban pays attention to every little detail so there’s no way it hasn’t been mentioned. As of right now, look for Cooper Bateman and Jalen Hurts to be the two quarterbacks. Bateman is the safe option. Hurts will be eased into the offense. Saban not telling reporters his plan on how he’ll use the quarterbacks is pretty standard. But no one believes that he, Lane Kiffin and the offensive staff haven’t talked through every possible scenario.
On if freshman defensive lineman Raekwon Davis will be eligible to play vs USC
“We don’t have a final decision on that. I’ll let you know when we get one. We haven’t gotten a final decision on that yet.” — Saban
What we think it means: Davis is one of the newcomers who is expected to have a role this season. He’s a big body who could provide depth to Alabama’s defensive line. Davis had academic issues before arriving at Alabama. Alabama has less than 10 days to figure out whether or not he’s going to be able to play. Not having Davis available would be a big blow to the Crimson Tide’s depth up front.
On Da’Ron Payne’s development from his freshman to sophomore year
“Da’Ron Payne played very well for us last year. He didn’t play a lot in nickel but really did a good job in regular and his role has expanded. He’s had a really good camp. We’ve tried to improve him a little bit as a pass rusher so he could be a good inside player for us and I think he’s done that so he gives us another inside player that we can play, which I think is critical based on the guys that we lost. Jonathan Allen can play in or out. Dalvin can play in or out. Da’Ron can play inside, we’ve got a couple other guys that can be inside pass rushers on third down and of course we have the outside linebackers that play a little bit more when it’s third down. Ryan and Tim have done a good job in pass rush, Rashaan Evans has done a good job in pass rush so we’re still trying to develop some other guys that could have roles that way. Da’Ron has done a nice job and had a really good camp.” — Saban
What we think it means: Payne was a monster against the run last season so him improving as a pass rusher should frighten opposing offenses. He’s the strongest player on the team and has a great motor. Payne being able to play three downs gives Alabama more creativity on defense. Jonathan Allen, Ryan Anderson, Tim Williams and Rashaan Evans should all have big years as pass rushers. Alabama still needs depth to develop along the defensive line so the top guys can stay somewhat fresh.
Other news you need to know
Breaking down Alabama’s quarterback competition: Will Tide play it safe or take a chance?
He said what? (quote of the day)
“It’s pretty weird because he’s so tall, and just to be a freshman and coming in that tall is already crazy. It’s not too crazy because A’Shawn (Robinson) came as a freshman looking like somebody’s dad. So we’re kind of used to it. His height is crazy.” — Alabama defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson on freshman Raekwon Davis who is 6-foot-7