Alabama returned to the practice fields this afternoon for the fourth time this spring. Expectations of heavy rain moved practice inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility, and once again the team worked out in full pads. Today marked the first time this spring that the team has worked on back-to-back days, and the first scrimmage of the spring will take place one week from today.
The biggest news coming out of the practice session was the continued absence of redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Brandon Moore. Absent on back-to-back days, in his post-practice press conference Nick Saban said that Moore had been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. The specific reason for his suspension, of course, was not given, and while Saban did not rule out his return at some point clearly Moore's future with the program is very uncertain at this point. For what it's worth, Moore is a big body with quite a bit of potential who was a heavily-recruited member of the 2009 recruiting class, but he hasn't stood out in his first two years on campus, and before the suspension he was seemingly not on the cusp of earning meaningful playing time.
And speaking of players suspended for violations of team rules, Robby Green was once again not at practice today, and no update on his status was given in the post-practice press conference. Green may return at some point in the future, but that is by no means a given at this point, and with the length of the spring suspension to date you have to imagine that even if he returns he will also be suspended for some portion of the regular season for his transgressions.
Injuries also began to rear its ugly head this afternoon, as Tyler Love was not at practice due to a concussion that he presumably suffered sometime yesterday. The severity of that injury is not known, but clearly any injury to the head is a concern, and we'll likely just have to wait and see while more tests are being performed to find out anything substantive. Alabama will return to practice on Monday, and if Love does not participate in that session then that may be an indicator of a more serious injury.
The good news on injuries, however, is that Love is the only injury to date through four practice sessions, and there is no indication that any of the injuries to those currently wearing black no-contact jerseys have regressed. With the first scrimmage in seven days, we'll likely find out in the coming week just how much contact those players will be cleared for, if any.
Kellen Williams received some positive feedback from Saban today in his press conference for his work at the back-up center position. William Vlachos struggled down the stretch a year ago, and while it doesn't seem like he is being seriously pushed at the moment for the starting job, the staff has been trying to find a viable back-up in the short-term. Williams and Chad Lindsey have taken reps at the position the past two days, and while it's an ongoing competition, the fact that Saban spoke highly of Williams play bodes well for his prospects moving forward.
Dee Hart was another player who Saban spoke highly of this afternoon, and he specifically mentioned him as someone who has shown the ability to contribute as a freshman. Given his size and physical skill set Hart could get on the field in a few different ways -- returner, third down back, etc. -- but regardless any time someone as critical as Saban speaks this highly of a true freshman who has only been on campus for four practice sessions, good things are reasonably to be expected.
In terms of scheme developments on the offensive side of the ball, one to keep your eye on may be Brian Vogler, the 6'7, 250 pound redshirt freshman out of Columbus, Georgia. Vogler has been taking reps at H-back with Michael Williams at tight end, and if used together in that manner they would be big, physical bookends on the line of scrimmage. Does that mean, moving forward, Alabama will be going more towards a heavy dose of the two tight end sets that were so prevalent in 2008 and 2009? It's certainly possible, and with Vogler working at H-back the flexibility to do that is clearly present.
Likewise, on the defensive side of the ball, DeQuan Menzie and DeMarcus Milliner have both been taking snaps at the star position. Given that Milliner started outside at corner a year ago, and that Saban has specifically mentioned Menzie playing outside at cornerback this spring now that he is healthy, the natural tendency seems to be to say that Milliner and Menzie will compete against one another with one mostly playing outside at corner and the other moving inside to star. Combined, if that holds true, that would put Kirkpatrick, Milliner, and Menzie as the three corners on the overwhelming majority of snaps, with John Fulton, Phelon Jones, and others fighting for playing time in the dime package. Add that to the list of things to keep your eye as this spring unfolds.
In any event, Alabama will take the day off tomorrow before returning to the practice fields on Monday. That will be the fifth practice session of the spring, and the third practice in full pads. Another practice will follow next Wednesday, which will be followed up by a light practice next Friday in preparation of the first scrimmage of the spring the following afternoon.