TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — We’re only three days away from Alabama kicking off the season against USC in Cowboy Stadium.
The media viewing period of practice was cut in half so there wasn’t much to take away from that. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban took just three questions in his post-practice news conference. Still, we have you covered on what Saban and the players said on Wednesday.
What Saban said … What we think it means
On how the running backs have looked during pass protection
“I think that’s probably the one thing that we need to continue to work with those guys on understanding pass protections and how to pass block. You’ve heard me talk before about guys that are running backs; they’re good running backs because they carry the ball good. Especially when they play in high school. The biggest thing we have to emphasize with guys is how do I play when I don’t have the ball. How do I run pass routes? How do I pass protect? How do I block the right guy in pass protection? We’ve got two guys who have been in the system for a while and do really well. The young guys are making progress and we want them to continue to get a better understanding of what they need to do on a consistent basis. It’s probably really important on third down because that’s where you get different sort of front looks, pressures, whatever. But we’re pleased with the progress. Not satisfied, but we’re working on it. We’re thinking both of those guys are going to make a contribution to us in the future.” — Saban
What we think it means: Learning to block is the toughest thing for young running backs simply because they don’t do it in high school. Saban doesn’t play running backs until they’re able to protect the quarterback. Derrick Henry couldn’t block when he arrived at Alabama, and ended up not playing much until the end of his freshman season. Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris have experience doing it, but freshmen Joshua Jacobs and B.J. Emmons don’t. That’s probably a reason they won’t see a ton of action in the season opener. But there’s still time for both Emmons and Jacobs to grasp everything. They’ll contribute this season.
On what he likes about playing these neutral site openers
“Well, I’d rather play here in Tuscaloosa. You think I like playing in Dallas better than playing in Tuscaloosa? The issue is getting people to play you in Tuscaloosa that are quality opponents and then when you do home-and-home, that means next year we’d have to play in California. So next year we wouldn’t make any money, this year we would. This is a business decision but it’s also a program decision in the tremendous amount of exposure, when you play a quality opponent like USC that has great tradition, has a very good team, a top-20 team. There’s a lot of national exposure the program gets. I always go back to when we played Clemson, we weren’t even ranked. They were ninth in the country and we beat them over there in Atlanta. That sort of ignited the whole program in terms of the exposure that was got and all those type of things. We think playing in Dallas is a wonderful opportunity for our players. We think they all enjoy it. It’s a beautiful stadium, one of the nicest places in the country and they enjoy the competition of playing against a great opponent. So I’m sure this will be a tough, physical game for us and wherever we play it, we have to get ready for a challenge.” — Saban
What we think it means: These games are about two things for Alabama: money and recruiting. That’s it. It’s been Saban’s philosophy to schedule these types of games since he arrived at Alabama. A lot of people want to see home-and-homes which makes sense. But as long as networks continue to pay major money for these contests, Alabama will continue to play in them. The Crimson Tide is set to open in Atlanta in 2017 (Florida State) and Orlando in 2018 (Louisville).
On Rashaan Evans health and his position
“He missed a little bit of time with a little bit of a pulled muscle but he’s back practicing now. He’s not really playing inside and outside. He’s playing inside and he rushes some outside. That’s different than playing inside and outside. He’s had a good camp and done really well. Couple of days probably set him back a little bit. We think he’ll be 100 percent for the game and we expect a contribution from him.” — Saban
What we think it means: Evans moved to inside linebacker in the spring. Many expected him to earn a starting spot right away. That hasn’t happened yet, and his latest injury didn’t help the matter. Evans will mostly play in nickel, but he’s behind Shaun Dion Hamilton at this point.
Watch: Player Interviews
Alabama wide receiver ArDarius Stewart
Alabama safety Eddie Jackson
Other news you need to know
- How Alabama’s running backs fared under Nick Saban in their first season as the featured back.
- Nick Saban praised Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley’s “explosive” punt return abilities
He said what? (quote of the day)
“It’s very important because we have great running backs as well. If they break, we can change a 10-yard run into a touchdown or a 50-yard run. Blocking is just as important for the guys on the outside as it is for the guys on the line. We’re going to need that running back to sit back there and pass protect when we’re down field so we can get the ball. It ties in together.” — Alabama wide receiver ArDarius Stewart on the receivers blocking in the running game