(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
"I’m looking for a lot of guys who are competitive and want to go out there and compete to win," he said. "It’s just kind of our first test to put on pads and see really what the unit’s going to look like in full action." The Alabama offense may face a bit more pressure than the defense today. Saban specifically mentioned that he wants the offense to be better in the red zone, which is inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. "We talk a lot about red area," Saban said. "We want to be more efficient in red area. So that’s something we’re focusing on." As for the offense overall, he added, "You can do it in practice, but when you have the chains and everything, it’s a little different. We definitely need some practice with play calls, having a play clock, those kind of game-management aspects."
The championship shine has already worn off. Alabama's crystal football trophy was shattered during the offseason, and the metaphor holds up, as coach Nick Saban must piece together a championship contender. The nation's No. 1 defense was raided by the NFL, surrendering six starters. The offense was hurt as well, losing a Heisman Trophy finalist at running back and all four of the team's top pass-catchers. But all is not lost in Tuscaloosa. The Tide return AJ McCarron at quarterback, and will have more depth and talent on the offense than in several years. Eddie Lacy is an explosive tailback, and the offensive line is poised to be one of the best in the country. The test will be how a young, gifted defense establishes its own identity.
"He's just a different type of guy," Williams said. "He's not only physically strong and everything, the same as everyone else, but he's smart and, obviously, he's been here. The experience of a lot of positions kind of multiply. When he has the ball in his hand, he's getting ready to read the whole defense, pretty much. He can almost beat you before you move, so you've got to work hard." Williams said he wasn't surprised when Jones announced he would return this season for a fifth year at Alabama. "I kind of assumed it coming out of last year," Williams said. "Like I said, it's good to work against great offensive linemen and get better in that sort of way."
Q: It's well known how complex the defense is. How long did it take you to pick it up?
A: It can be a complex defense if you don't go into with the right mindset every single day. Every single day I kind of took the playbook home, studied it about three or four hours. Called my dad and asked him what he thought about it, while he was here. We would always meet and watch film together and it just started clicking a little bit more and a little bit more every day.
Jalston Fowler was spotted only with the running backs. Friday morning, he spent one period with the tight ends/H-backs, then worked the next period with the running backs. It was not the first practice in which his time was divided between two positions.
Now that freshman wide receiver Chris Black is out for 3-4 months with a shoulder injury that has required surgery, Williams' move to the secondary -- if permanent -- would be a sign that Alabama coaches like the remaining players at wide receiver. Or it could be a sign that the Crimson Tide's secondary needs help.
Since he arrived at Alabama last year, Williams has added roughly 90 pounds to what he can lift on the bench press. What he hasn't done is add a single pound to his waist. If anything, the 6-foot-4, 320-pound Williams has looked trimmer since he switched from defensive end to nose guard during the spring. "He's very athletic for a big guy," coach Nick Saban said. "He really hasn't gotten bigger, he's gotten stronger."
"Who can go out there, react and make plays," Saban said Thursday. "They may not know or do exactly what they're supposed to do. They're good tacklers on defense, they're good runners on offense, they're good receivers, they're good blockers. Whatever their circumstances may be. "Those are going to be the right guys for us to coach."