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Jumbo Package: Saban looking for better tackling, more depth

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Happy Monday, everyone. The softball team dropped its first series of the season to South Carolina as the bats went quiet in the final two games. The schedule only gets tougher from here, and Montana Fouts’ “minor” injury still has her sidelined. Hopefully they can bounce back with a midweek tilt against Georgia State before hosting #18 Georgia next weekend.

As Roger told you, the baseball team had better luck with the Cocks, winning the series and nearly pulling off a sweep. The Gym Tide performed admirably but unfortunately missed the final round of the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive year, and only the fourth time in 27.

The football team completed its second scrimmage and is now in the final week of fall camp, with A-Day coming up on Saturday.

Saban was happy with the first-teamers on both sides of the ball. Beyond that, there’s “a lot of work to do.” Alabama needs to develop and strengthen its depth offensively and defensively.

“Now I haven’t watched the film yet, but I wasn’t pleased with the way some of those guys made improvement and came along,” Saban said. “Look, it’s a work in progress. So wherever they are, we’re going to keep working with them to try to get them where they need to be, but we were hopeful that we would make a little more progress.”

“I saw some guys flying around,” Saban said. “I saw some guys miss some tackles. I didn’t feel like we tackled really well, especially the second team. First team did a pretty good job. But people weren’t running their feet on contact, trying to cut tackle, trying to butt people to the ground. And I think they’re finding out that if they don’t tackle them correctly they’re not going to get them on the ground, not when you play against good players.

“So, I think there was improvement there, but certainly the whole idea of playing defense is to tackle the guy with the ball. So, you can do everything right, but if you don’t tackle the guy with the ball, that’s why you’re out there.”

Needless to say, the linebacker position will be the most watched on A-Day and throughout fall camp. The secondary should be elite, but linebacker miscommunication can lead to many an open crosser, and we obviously have to be able to tackle.

Former Alabama great and noted Gump Mike Johnson joined BamaInsider’s Kyle Henderson for a half hour interview that’s worth your time. Mike is extremely high on the offensive line, DJ Dale, Tua Tagovailoa and Najee Harris this spring.

In case you missed it, there was a bit of a dust up over some comments Saban made about early entrants into the NFL Draft. First, the comments:

“Now, we have guys that have no draft grades, seventh-round grades, free-agent grades, fifth-round grades that are going out of the draft,” Saban said. “And the person that loses in that is the player.

“If you’re a third-round draft pick, and we had one here last year — I’m not mentioning any names — goes and starts for his team, so he’s making third-round money, which is not that great. He’d be the first guy taken at his position this year, probably, and make $15-18 million more. So, the agent makes out, the club makes out, and now they’ve got a guy that’s going to play for that kind of money for three more years, a’ight?

This doesn’t seem to be anything earth shattering. The NFL has no time to develop guys fundamentally. You’re expected to come in ready to play, and sometimes coming back for a senior season is as much about maturing for another year as anything else.

Well, the player in question was Ronnie Harrison, and he seems offended.

No, Saban isn’t Butt Hurt Now Days About a Kid, Ronnie, and your odd use of capitalization won’t make it so. He complimented you as a player and said that you are underpaid for a starting safety.

If you recall, back in October Ronnie was one of four Jaguars players arrested in London after trying to skip out on a $64k bar tab. With that type of spending habit, he’d better have a very long career. If only every player who came through actually embraced The Process.

At least one NFL franchise is particularly fond of those who do.

The Redskins’ roster includes eight players produced by Saban’s Alabama program -- defensive end Jonathan Allen, outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, safety Landon Collins, inside linebacker Reuben Foster, inside linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton, guard Arie Kouandjio, nose tackle Da’Ron Payne and wide receiver Cam Sims.

”It’s one of the dominant programs in college football and in college football history when you look at it,” Bruce Allen told the team’s official website. “We’re fortunate that we’ve gotten a lot of very good players from Alabama, and they’re a great resource for us to tell us about their prospects that are coming out in the future years, and we get a nice welcome when we go to Alabama.”

It will be interesting to see how many Alabama players end up in DC this April.

The college basketball national title game is tonight and Auburn isn’t in it (LOL).

I am now a lifelong fan of basketball official James Breeding. This ending really is the best for all involved. Pretty much everybody with a soul hates Auburn, and Auburn fans are most comfortable when aggrieved, which is basically always. Oh, and take a look at.... this.

That’s what my grandmother used to call “crazy as a bessie bug.”

Like Nate Oats, Texas Tech’s Chris Beard studies Nick Saban’s process.

“I study everything I can about coach Saban,” Beard said. “Besides Texas Tech football, I follow Alabama about as close as anybody other than Tech. And just the process, basically, where you know you’re not results-oriented deal, it’s a day-to-day process, not so much the scoreboard, but winning each day is basically the backbone of what we try to do with Tech basketball.”

Tech AD Kirby Hocutt confirmed that Beard has pretty much a library of books about Saban in his video war room, where he breaks down film.

Word is that his alma mater, Texas, is going to back up that proverbial Brinks truck to lure him to Austin, which will be the closest they’ve ever come to hiring Saban.

Last, there is a juicy rumor that recently named national coach of the year Rick Barnes may be headed to Westwood.

Leaving Tennessee with no coach this close to signing day would be just fine by me.

That’s about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.