Happy Monday, everyone. Saturday marked Alabama’s open practice and fan day event. We will open with an obligatory video of the Running of the Gumps:
I really hope that one dude with his hand on his chest wasn’t pushing through angina to get his autographs.
Moving on, your practice reports:
-- The second-team defensive line so far has been Quinnen Williams and Isaiah Buggs at defensive end with Josh Frazier at nose tackle. The third-team defensive line has been LaBryan Ray and Jamar King at defensive end with Johnny Dwight at nose tackle.
-- With the defense in dime, Minkah Fitzpatrick is down at either Star or Money with Deionte Thompson in at safety as the sixth defensive back. The two defensive linemen were Da'Ron Payne and Da'Shawn Hand.
-- The first-team defensive line early in practice is Da'Ron Payne, Da'Shawn Hand and Raekwon Davis.
Najee Harris is an absolute nightmare in the passing game for linebackers to deal with. He put Tony Brown in the spin cycle on one play. Really impressed with the physicality of freshman offensive lineman Jedrick Wills. He’s still raw, but the mentality is there. Lester Cotton looks like he’s gained weight. Deonte Brown has lost some. Shaun Dion Hamilton is in better shape than he was in the spring (during which he was recovering from a torn ACL). VanDarius Cowan wore a black, no-contacy jersey and rode the exercise bike. Damien Harris broke through the middle of the line and scored a touchdown.
Perhaps two tight end sets were an area the offensive staff was intent on working during Saturday's practice.Or maybe it was an indicator of things to come during the 2017 season. Without having access to a practice plan, it's impossible to know for sure. Regardless, we saw a good bit of Irv Smith Jr. and Miller Forristall on the field together with the first-team offense. Under new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, blocking will still be a big part of what the tight ends are asked to do. Smith and Forristall in there together, though, tells me that the former tight ends coach for the New England Patriots plans to target the position in the passing game a good bit. Well, that and the fact that of the six scholarship tight ends -- Forristall, Smith, Hale Hentges, Major Tennison, Ronnie Clark and Kedrick James-- UA practiced with Saturday, none were targeted fewer than twice in pass skel and team work.
By all accounts, Raekwon Davis looks ready to take on a starring role in the Alabama front. If that first unit holds, Williams/Frazier/Buggs should be very formidable as a second rotation and you have to believe that Ray will earn some time as well. People were blown away by Najee Harris’ ability in open space, especially catching the ball, and two tight end sets were featured prominently. You never know, check back mid-morning and we might just have a little something on how those tight ends may be utilized.
Trevon Diggs still seems to be running first at cornerback, which is at least mildly surprising, and Matt Womack is still running first at right tackle. Those battles are far from over.
All was on schedule until he broke his leg in the third quarter after scoring two touchdowns against Clemson in the national title game.
Meeting with reporters Saturday for the first time since the injury, Scarbrough avoided that injury topic as artfully as he does tacklers.
"I mean, that book is closed," he said. "The past is the past and I can't talk about the past."
For this chapter, Scarbrough said his leg is 100 percent after being limited from full-contact drills during spring practice.
"You can find creative ways to try to use them, and everyone will have a role if they earn that role," Daboll said in his first and only meeting with reporters Saturday. "So, there's good players with all five of those guys, really. They've done a good job in the spring. And again, we've been out here for two days on with no pads on right now, so really it's more of an execution, a detail, an assignment thing."
Great to see that Bo feels 100%, and Daboll legitimately seems to have a plan for all of the backs.
They may look like man-beasts in pads, but every once in a while something happens to remind us that these guys are still kids. Check out Najee’s reaction to seeing his own football card:
Najee Harris amazed that a fan has his U.S. Army All-American card pic.twitter.com/MVqll2Bl9s— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) August 5, 2017
“I would probably say the first day of summer workouts,” Hamilton said of when things started to feel normal. “It was like the first day of school again to be out there with my teammates. Every day is an opportunity.”
Hamilton was back in his usual spot when Alabama opened fall camp on Thursday. He and fellow senior Rashaan Evans are Alabama’s top two inside linebackers.
Evans filled in for Hamilton following the injury, allowing Evans to get starting experience. Now the teammates have a chance to be one of the top linebacker duos in the country.
Shaun sounds ready to roll and is working with the first team.
Ronnie Harrison shed some light about Nick Saban and the way he handles his players in terms of off-field issues, etc.
Asked Alabama DB, Ronnie Harrison, about playing for Coach Saban and how it makes him feel to know that Saban has his back. pic.twitter.com/y30lnIrJaK— Ryan C. Fowler (@RyanCFowler) August 5, 2017
Thus far it is safe to say that Saban’s rehabilitative, rather then punitive, approach to discipline has worked out swimmingly and is respected by those who matter the most.
Ever wondered about Saban’s favorite song?
Saban told me his favorite song was Give Me Shelter even though he "doesn't know what it means" lol pic.twitter.com/Yc4rPeEdjU— Molly Catherine (@mollycathwalsh) August 5, 2017
Wonder no more. It’s just a shot away.
In other news, Cole Cubelic was back at it with a little film on Jonah Williams:
Really like the quick set here by Jonah Williams. Nice body control. Carries hands low & inside to win position vs a guy w/a 35 inch arms pic.twitter.com/cy3HffLYZd— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) August 5, 2017
He mentions the hands and the quick set, but the wide base and leverage are equally impressive. Techinically that looks like an NFL left tackle, and he was merely a freshman.
Lastly, Ryan Anderson made a little news with his comments about practice in Tuscaloosa:
Ryan Anderson, a second-round pick in Washington, recently said that training is more trying in Tuscaloosa.
“Practices there are a little bit rougher than [they are] here,” Anderson (No. 22 in the photo) recently said, via SaturdayDownSouth.com. “We do a lot of banging around there, so it definitely prepared me physically and mentally for this grind that I’m doing now.”
This wouldn’t be terribly surprising. Most NFL teams have gone to a kindler, gentler regimen since Saban was there.
That’s about it for today. Have a great week.