With the start of spring practices, we’ve finally got some Nick Saban interviews about the state of the team, so AL.com is on top of things with all the Saban quotes you could ever want to read. I’ve picked out some of the most noteworthy for you guys, but click on the links if you want more.
After catching just five passes as a redshirt junior last season, the former five-star recruit is being depended on to play a much bigger role this year and to get back to being the impact player he was in 2015 prior to suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.
The early feedback has been good.
"I think he's playing better than he did a year ago," Alabama coach Nick Saban said, "and hopefully he will continue to improve and have a role on the team. I think we need for him to do that."
With Trevon Diggs suddenly spending some time in the secondary, it may become even more vital for Robert Foster to finally show at least some of the potential he entered the program with. I’ve been a huge fan of Foster’s for years now, but he has thus far been a disappointment with his lack of contribution.
As a redshirt senior, it’s now or never for him. And the departure of both ArDarius Stewart and Gehrig Dieter is the best opportunity he could have asked for.
"Bo is doing more and more every day," Saban said after the fourth practice of spring. "He did quite a bit today in practice, non-contact stuff, but he's sort of gaining confidence. Our goal for Bo is by the end of spring, he's fully confident that he can do everything he needs to do. Whether he ever scrimmages is really not something that we're not that concerned about."
Scarbrough was the third-leading rusher last season with 812 yards on 125 attempts.
The top returner was also dealing with an injury Tuesday. Saban said Damien Harris sprained his foot Saturday practicing indoors, but expected he'd be back for Thursday's workout.
Saban also said they had been working freshman Chadarius Townsend at slot receiver the last two practices. The early enrollee from Tanner, Alabama was listed as an athlete by most recruiting services.
A broken foot should recover by the end of spring, and should most definitely be totally in the rearview mirror by the start of the season. That said, Bo has been hampered by various injuries throughout his career, and you have to wander if each injury is piling onto his body, making more injuries more likely to happen.
The initial listing of Chadarius Townsend being a running back really surprised me, and it wasn’t a position I expect to last. Now he’s moved, for now, to slot receiver, but don’t be surprised if we see him settle in the secondary sooner rather than later.
-- Saban on Ben Davis' move to outside linebacker: "We just felt like Ben, athletically, might have a better chance to contribute there, and he's done a nice job. He is athletic, and we're still working him as a nickel 'backer. We haven't experimented much with him as a rusher, but that may be the next thing we try as well. I'm very pleased with his progress, and I think he could be a great contributor on special teams as well."
Though a more natural inside ‘backer, Ben Davis is versatile enough that he can take advantage of the fact that there are fewer experienced outside linebackers than inside linebackers on this team. He did play some defensive end in high school when his team needed pass rush, but is at his best when he can read the offense and try to cut off passing lanes or outside runs.
Either way, Davis will find some way to contribute after his redshirt year.
“One of the things that we do if the quarterback is going to run the ball, when we do like turnover drills before practice that are basically tackle and strip drills, we’ll put the quarterbacks in those drills,” Saban said. “So, in a controlled situation they’re getting hit, the ball is getting stripped and certainly ball security is something, if we’re going to run the quarterbacks, has gotta be an important thing for them.”
Saban mentions that risking his quarterbacks getting hurt isn’t worth having them practice in full contact in order to make them tougher. So, he runs controlled situations where defenders will try to strip the ball if the QB tries to run. With Jalen Hurts’ fumble issues last year, this type of practice could be a huge help.
Saban also says that they’ve intentionally limited QB runs this spring in order to focus on developing their passing game.
While I love a dual-threat as much as the next guy, so often a young quarterback can become too dependent on his running ability and neglect going through progressions or correct pocket movement when faced with pressure in the game. Hopefully this practice work will help to instill a better pass/run balance in Jalen Hurts to really make him dangerous next year.