Happy Friday, everyone. The Tide began game prep for Florida State yesterday. Your practice reports:
-- Running back Josh Jacobs (hamstring) was taking part in practice for a second straight day, though it looked again like he was a limited participant.
-- Damien Harris led the running back line during drills.
Christian Miller was back out in front of drills with the outside linebacker. The rest of the OLB in the drills were Anfernee Jennings, Jamey Mosley, Terrell Lewis, Mekhi Brown, Ben Davis and Vandarius Cowan. Davis wore No. 99 to simulate Brian Burns and Cowan wore No. 9 to simulate Josh Sweat.
It also meant that some Alabama players worked in scout-team jerseys.
They included defensive lineman Labryan Ray in 9 (Demarcus Christmas), defensive end Phidarian Mathis in 94 (DT Walvenski Aime), defensive tackle Johnny Dwight (Derrick Nnadi) in 91, linebacker Ben Davis in 99 (DE Brian Burns), linebacker Christopher Allen in 16 (Jacob Pugh), linebacker VanDarius Cowan in 9 (DE Josh Sweat) and running back Brian Robinson in 9 (Jacques Patrick). There were numerous players in 3 (RB Cam Akers).
-- Saban said it's conceivable Alabama will use multiple kickers Week 1 and punter JK Scott would be used on long field goals while Joseph Bulovas and Andy Pappanastos will compete for the job of taking the shorter tries.
-- Saban said Florida State has as good as a team as there is in the country.
The first day of game prep is a sobering reality for many of the younger players. As Saban has said many times, camp is used in part to determine which players will be a part of the rep rotations during the regular practice schedule as the 20-hour limit simply doesn’t afford much time for the bottom half of the roster. The guys who received scout team jerseys are unlikely to see the field outside of special teams or mop-up duty.
Oh, and rotating kickers, eh? BRB
"I don't know if you guys saw us get into it last year during Media (Day) during the playoffs, but Rashaan's a lot like Reuben," a smiling Harris said of the senior linebacker. "He's an incredibly hard worker. He focuses on the small details. He's just a really, really positive guy on our team and he's a true leader. But he's somebody that kind of mixes it up and has fun every now and then."
While most other schools would struggle mightily to replace stars like Foster, Jonathan Allen, Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams, it's because of players like Evans that this Crimson Tide defense should once again be elite even after losing several standouts from last year's highly-ranked unit.
Evans is tasked with replacing the leadership and production Reuben Foster provided as an All-American and permanent team captain in 2016. But if anyone can fill the void left by the first-round draft pick, it’s the other top prospect from Auburn, Ala.
Senior studs manning both ILB slots and two third-year starters at safety with a senior running third should portend well for the defense. Evans is the name most mentioned as this year’s breakout star.
The two things that stick out most about Davis, Williams said, are "obviously just his natural athletic ability and size."
Davis, who is down to 305 pounds after weighing about 330 pounds as a high school senior in 2015, ran the 40-yard dash in 5.12 seconds during the spring while also bench-pressing 425 pounds and tying for second on the team with a 335-pound power clean.
"He's a really big human being," Williams said, "but he's (also) worked hard."
Reviews on Davis have been overwhelmingly positive as he looks to replace underrated Dalvin Tomlinson as the designated pocket-pusher.
Along with Saban, Wills has impressed some of his older teammates. Alabama left guard Ross Pierschbacher called Wills a “guy with huge potential.”
“Even if he’s not taking the right footwork, he’ll still blow a guy off the ball,” Pierschbacher said. “It’s stuff you can’t teach that he has. He’s got a very bright future and a guy like him being a young freshman who didn’t even come early, just trying to work with him and have him learn as much as soon as possible.”
It didn’t take long for Wills to make a name for himself. If he stands out athletically, look for him to take the job at some point. Pass protection will likely be the determining factor.
Jerry Jeudy is good at football, folks:
We’ll close with full video of Saban’s presser.
That’s about it for today. Our game coverage starts Monday.