These days, Nick Saban lets about as much info about the spring scrimmages out as kid hoarding his Legos. We get no stats, and none of the beat reporters get any sort of access anymore. Basically, we get a press conference afterwards where Saban controls the message, and that’s about it.
Also, AL.com transcribed most of the important lines if you prefer the non-video form.
I’m too lazy to actually go and quote/transcribe things, so instead will just hit on a quick smattering of thoughts about the state of the team from the tidbits Nick left for us to hang on to.
- As usual, he opened up with a quick soliloquy about the mentality of the team, and he seemed pretty pleased with it. I don’t think there’s too much there, other than one specific phrase he used: “really good collisions.”
We saw a little too much finesse play from the Tide defense in 2018-2019 and into the early half of 2020 before they started to come back into the more physical form we’ve become accustomed to since 2008. Hopefully this is a good sign that this defense coming up is still going to be a group of enforcers.
- He also talked about the team as a whole, saying there aren’t any “complainers” and they have very positive leadership. Though he left us with the caveat that positive leadership is easier this time of year, and he hopes they can sustain it down the stretch of a season. Regardless, there’s been many seasons we’ve heard him bemoaning the lack of leadership this time of year, so this definitely seems positive.
- Offensive line is probably the weakest spot on the team. It sounded like Bryce Young was facing some pressure on 3rd down blitzes, just like all of the second half of last year. They also had some pre-snap issues and half the group is hurt.
- Jermaine Burton sounds to have already established himself as the leader of the WR group, and Aaron Anderson was mentioned in the same breath (though Saban called him little, which is a bit rich coming from the head man). Traeshon Holden was also mentioned for being consistent... Though the group as a whole had some “drops that need to be cleaned up.”
Throughout his whole speech on the WRs, Agiye Hall was the only name of the returning players that was never mentioned at all. WHAT DOES IT MEAN???
All jokes aside, my current prediction is that Burton, Ja’Corey Brooks, and Aaron Anderson enter the season as the top 3 starters.
- Saban said that Trey Sanders rushed for 73 yards and Jahmyr Gibbs got 55. He later said the intent was to get them each 10-12 carries. Doing some backwards math, that means both got over 5 yards per carry. He also said that the run game as a whole is further along than it was at this point last year. I’ll take that.
- The defense didn’t get quite as much attention, but the pass rush got a little bit of talk from him. Saban mentioned that there are a couple of young players who could provide an interior pass rush this year, but he wouldn’t give us names — presumably to prevent another Agiye Hall situation with the fans fawning over an unproven player.
- This next particular bit of phrasing is what most stuck out to me, though. Earlier, he made a point to say that Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell were doing well at edge rusher while Will Anderson sat out (by design... He wanted other players to have a chance). Then while talking about the interior pass rush question, he said that them being able to push the pocket is especially important when you have good edge rushers.
I may be reading a little too much into that, but I think Braswell has made some major strides, and is being included in what Saban is likely considering the strength of the team. I’m starting to suspect we may see a little bit more rotation this year to give Anderson/Turner the occasional break at edge rusher.
Overall, Saban seemed calm and pleased, but focused. And that’s something I’m going to take as a very positive sign.