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The smart edition

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Alabama vs Clemson Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Saban’s Alabama Pass Coverages

As you hopefully have seen from the above, Saban’s pass coverage system is very modular in its approach, giving the defensive coordinator a variety of options that he can piece together to match what the offense might present. But in going through these materials, I hope the reader can come away with a wholly different conclusion as well: that Nick Saban is a great teacher.

Most college coordinators would balk at the prospect to teach all of the above to their players so that they are ready to execute on Saturdays. Saban doesn’t. Every year, he has his players ready to go out and run this entire system in face of graduations, incoming freshmen, injuries, and the like. The only way a coach can do that – year in and year out – is by being a great instructor. And that, despite all of the interesting strategies he employs, should be Nick Saban’s greatest legacy.

It’s the middle of the week, so all of you should be in your peak mental state of productivity and learning receptiveness. As such, here’s a link for you if you want more than a couple of thousands of words on the mechanics behind the fabled pattern-matching pass coverages of Nick Saban’s defense... in multiple different coverage schemes. I can’t speak for how this guy knows much (or if the terminology is truly what Saban uses), but the breakdown is excellent, and he uses graphics to explain things.

Give it a read if you have a half an hour to spare at work without your boss noticing while you nerd out over football schemes.

Tua Tagovailoa back on field, other Alabama practice notes

-- Tua Tagovailoa was on the field in a black jersey doing footwork drills to the side. He wasn’t wearing the heavy wrapping that reached up his left arm that he was spotted wearing Monday. There was still protection covering the broken finger that was reinjured last week. Tagovailoa was still gripping the football in the drills during the media viewing period. It would be a safe bet to assume he’d still be on the sideline for Saturday’s spring game.

-- It looked like Josh Jacobs was doing a little more with the running backs while still wearing the black non-contact jersey. He’s been out all spring but only recently got back in pads on the field.

Not much in the way of real notes or observations, but AL.com did do the rest of us a favor and update us on how a couple of the most notable injured players are doing. Tua should be just fine in a month or two, but in the meantime, let’s all enjoy the collective fan base meltdown as Jalen Hurts has monster A-day game against a fresh, green secondary while Tua sits on the bench.

Meanwhile, you have to hate it for Josh Jacobs. He’s been perpetually limited by injuries for over a year now. Where he likely would have been pushing for nearly an even split in playing time with Damien Harris, there’s a good chance he’ll wind up 3rd on the depth chart behind Najee Harris due to missing so much practice time... if not 4th behind Brian Robinson too.

The most forgotten players on the football field

“Offensive line, we don’t get any kind of shine,” Cotton said. “So, I mean just to hear, like, tackles or centers get credit, like we’re somewhere in the midst. Because you know without five, it’s really impossible to, like, do anything. You can’t play seven against 11 because the quarterback would keep getting sacked. I mean we’re somewhere in the mix.”

There’s love behind the scenes. Cotton said the Alabama quarterbacks are quick with the praise. Jalen Hurts has been known to take the wide bodies out for dinner.

”Even like when they get sacked in practice,” Cotton said, “they’ll come to us and be like, ‘Hey, you guys keep doing what you’re doing. Just move forward.”

At Alabama, we love our offensive line. And also criticize and blame them for any offensive failure. It’s what we do.

You have to believe that Cotton will be one of the starting guards for sure. Ross Pierschbacher will also be a starter— but will it be at guard or center? Jedrick Wills will be fighting tooth and nail for a starting spot. But will it be at guard if Ross P moves to center, or can he unseat Matt Womack at left tackle? If so, who plays center? Josh Casher? Brandon Kennedy?

There are some interesting combinations and player battles for starting time, but it doesn’t feel like an uncertain mess like it has in the past. This is a group of offensive linemen with a lot of talent, athleticism and even prior experience, and they could wind up being great.

Alabama Football Practice Notes: 4/17/2018

Slade Bolden has been with the DBs all spring and has looked good in the drills I saw him. He played quarterback in high school and was listed as a running back by 247 Sports, though some expected him to play slot receiver here. I’m not sure if this is a permanent move or just one for depth, but he appears to be taking reps with the second team DBs at times.

No movement on the first team offensive line: Still Jonah Williams, Lester Cotton, Ross Pierschbacher, Jedrick Wills and Alex Leatherwood (left to right). I tried to get a look at the second team, but the first team kept getting reps during the viewing period.

I suppose Ben Jones at TideSports just answered that one for me. Looks like Wills at right guard with Leatherwood making a push for right tackle is the leading combination at the moment. Of course, you never know how things will change after the spring and in the summer. But man that’s a talented line.

Also, Slade Bolden is still being tough to pin down what exactly he was recruited to be. Personally, I preferred him on offense based on his high school play, but I guess I should defer to Saban here. The DB’s need a lot of depth until the 4 newcomers show up this summer.