TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The rain forced Alabama to practice inside on Wednesday for its seventh day of fall camp.
Alabama was back in full pads. The Crimson Tide is only a couple of practices away from its first scrimmage on Saturday. We’ve got you covered with news, notes and video from Wednesday.
- Freshman running back Joshua Jacobs was limited for the second straight day. Jacobs stood next to the running back group while holding two footballs, but didn’t participate in drills. He missed the early practice on Tuesday, but was spotted at the night session.
“He has a little thigh contusion, but I think he’ll be just fine in a day or two. He’s day-to-day. He actually practiced one day with it, and we decided not to practice him for a day. We’re just trying to get some of the swelling out. I think he’ll be fine.” — Saban
- Quarterback David Cornwell (foot) threw more during Wednesday’s viewing period than he has in a while. Cornwell is still limited, but he showed some nice spin on a few of his throws.
What we saw
- Cooper Bateman, Blake Barnett and Jalen Hurts are Alabama’s three healthy quarterbacks. Barnett and Hurts throw the best ball of the three. They both have great zip on their passes. It was noticeable on both the deeper throws and some of the quick routes we were able to see during the viewing period. Bateman puts too much air under the ball at times on some of the longer throws. Bateman looked good on some of the quicker routes like throws to the tight ends. But the receivers had to slow down on a couple of occasions to wait on the football when Bateman was throwing longer passes. That doesn’t happen often with Barnett or Hurts. That could be problematic against the speed of some of these SEC defenses.
- Alabama’s secondary worked on its dime package during Wednesday’s practice. Marlon Humphrey and redshirt freshman Kendall Sheffield were the two cornerbacks. Ronnie Harrison and Eddie Jackson were the two safeties. Minkah Fitzpatrick worked at star while Hootie Jones lined up at money. Sheffield has been spotted with the first group for a couple of days in a row. Alabama is looking for a third cornerback to come in so they can slide Fitzpatrick to star in nickel and dime situations.
- Freshman defensive backs Shyheim Carter, Aaron Robinson and Jared Mayden are all competing for spots in the rotation. Robinson and Mayden appear to only be working at cornerback, while Carter is getting a look at both cornerback and star.
- Freshman Trevon Diggs continued to work with the safeties. Diggs could be there permanently given Alabama’s lack of depth at the position.
Watch Alabama’s offensive line work on exploding through blocks
Watch Alabama’s running backs work on footwork and fighting through tackles
What Saban said … What we think it means
On wide receiver Calvin Ridley:
“Calvin Ridley, he’s one of those guys that we talk about mature competitors, young guys, he showed that last year and was very, very productive. Made great improvement throughout the season and ended up having great production. Made a lot of big plays. He’s a hard guy to cover. He’s gotten a little bigger and stronger and he certainly has big play potential. I have not seen any sort of attitude out of him that he’s not still working hard, still trying to get better, and he’s doing all the things that he needs to do to be sort of a dominant player at his position and hopefully we’ll be able to see great production from him this year.” — Saban
What we think it means: Ridley hasn’t let the success he had during his freshman season get to his head. He’s still a hard worker who wants to get better everyday. Opposing defensive coordinators should be afraid of the fact that a guy with Ridley’s natural abilities is now more confident and more comfortable in Alabama’s system. He could have another big year.
On redshirt freshman cornerback Kendall Sheffield:
“Kendall Sheffield, I think we just keep trying to work reps, reps, reps, so that he can play his position with a little more naturally instinctive reactions. He certainly has a lot of ability and we’re certainly trying to bring it out of him in every way we can. Right now it’s a work in progress and he is making progress. We certainly would like to be able to enhance that with a little better coaching on our part.” — Saban
What we think it means: Alabama can move Minkah Fitzpatrick to the star position in its nickel and dime packages. That means they would need a third cornerback to come in and line up opposite Marlon Humphrey. That could be Sheffield if he continues to develop. Sheffield, now a redshirt freshman, was a 5-star cornerback in Alabama’s 2015 recruiting class. He has all the physical tools to be successful at the position. Sheffield has been working at cornerback with the first defensive group in nickel and dime the last few days of practice. Saban wants to see more consistency out of Sheffield as well as better teaching from the defensive backs coaches (Saban and Derrick Ansley). Playing Sheffield at corner would allow Alabama to take advantage of Fitzpatrick’s versatility.
On young players in the secondary:
“We’re out there working with them every day and we’re going to try to put the best parts together that we can. And we’ve got some young guys that I think can be really good players but it’s a work in progress to sort of get those guys to know and understand not only what we do, but all the adjustments we have to make for what other teams do when we play them. It’s going to be important that some of these young guys provide us with the depth that we need and there’s a lot of opportunity for these guys to play and I think they’re working hard and focused on it and making improvement every day. But it’s too early to tell how it’s going to all fall in place for us. We have lots of practices left before that first game and hopefully some of these guys will sort of be able to get enough knowledge and experience in this practice time that they’re confident enough to go out and contribute in a role for us to help us win.” — Saban
What we think it means: Marlon Humphrey, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Eddie Jackson and Ronnie Harrison are set as starters. Hootie Jones should play a role in Alabama’s dime package. But the depth beyond that is a bit of a toss up. Saban is challenging the young defensive backs to step up because they may be needed this season. That goes for Kendall Sheffield, Jared Mayden, Aaron Robinson and Shyheim Carter. Alabama has been rotating the young guys in with the starters throughout fall camp to give them plenty of opportunities. They must take advantage of the situation in order to earn a spot in the rotation.
On Minkah Fitzpatrick playing both cornerback and star:
“Last year he just had to play star and never really had to play much corner. This year he’s having to do both. I’d like for a guy not to have to do that. I’d like to have a guy that could play corner or a guy that could play star so that guy could always sort of play in one position. I’m not sure we have the luxury to do that at this point relative to the players that we have available. So he may have to do that. He’s very versatile and he’s bright, he’s smart, he’s very conscientious, he works hard every day. So if there’s anybody who can do it, I think he’s certainly the right kind of guy to do it. That may be how we end up this year.” — Saban
What we think it means: Saban and the defensive coaching staff are going to ask a lot of Fitzpatrick in his sophomore season. Saban would obviously prefer if one of the young players stepped up in the secondary so Fitzpatrick could focus solely on one position. But Saban is prepared to take advantage of Fitzpatrick’s versatility if need be. Look for Fitzpatrick to line up at cornerback in Alabama’s base defense then slide to star in the nickel and dime packages.
Watch: Player interviews
Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey
Alabama wide receiver ArDarius Stewart
Other news you need to know
- Why Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley may be even better in 2016
- Maurice Smith was reportedly granted a full release from Alabama
He said what? (quote of the day)
“That’s a good one. I don’t know, I think we (the secondary) have our days. Some days when you’re out there just dying, Kiffin just loves to just ‘check, check, throw another fade and another fade.’ With Kiffin out there, he’s just a mastermind with the play calling. If he sees you tired, that’s when he says ‘Nah, forget the run. We’re gonna check.’ That’s usually how it goes.” — Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey on who wins more battles in practice between the secondary and wide receivers and Lane Kiffin’s playcalling style