Happy Tuesday, everyone. Nick Saban held his Monday press conference yesterday, and decided not to release a depth chart. As Michael Casagrande notes, Nick likely made that decision last year.
Now this isn’t a matter of strategic gamesmanship with Middle Tennessee State coming to town Saturday. If that were the case, he would have nixed it before playing one of the Labor Day specials in Atlanta or Dallas against USC or Florida State.
It’s even simpler than that.
Saban, essentially, doesn’t want the headache that comes with Depth Chart Monday.
A year ago this weekend, Saban railed on a postgame question related to starting lineups differing from the Monday chart.
“My biggest issue on the whole team was the day the depth chart came out,” Saban said foreshadowing this year’s move after the 55-0 humiliation of Utah State. “Y’all might have seen the last one …. Because that’s all you worry about.”
Of course, most folks wanted to see the depth chart primarily to see how Saban had the QBs listed. According to Tyler Booker, the team has no clue who is going to start.
“We don’t know,” he said. “They don’t know. It’s really not up to us. It’s really up to them to earn the right to play. But as far as the offensive line and the rest of the team goes, our mindset is whoever it’s gonna be, we’re gonna be ready to support them because coach Saban plays the cards really close. We’ll all find out on Saturday. Everybody asks me questions like I know. I promise you I don’t know, we’re all going to find out on Saturday.’”
By this point in camp, players are itching to hit someone new.
“It’s been a long camp,” offensive lineman Seth McLaughlin said. “It felt really long this year, a really hard camp. Yeah, I think it’s going to be nice to play someone else. It’s not fun going up against Jaheim [Oatis], Tim Smith and Tim [Keenan III] every day in practice. They start to get to know you really well. They start knowing your moves. If I know he’s about to bullrush me, I might do a certain thing and he knows I’m thinking what he’s thinking. So it will be nice to go against someone who doesn’t necessarily know what I’m thinking every single play.”
“I’m ready to go against a different team. It’ll be fun to see a different colored jersey,” linebacker Deontae Lawson said.
As far as Saban’s comments, the highlights were praise for Jalen Milroe’s development and news that Devonta Smith has missed time with foot issues.
“I think Jalen has made a significant amount of improvement,” Saban said. “I think he’s more comfortable in the pocket. I think he has more confidence in the way he executes and the way he plays. He’s been more consistent in the way he’s played. I think that’s going to be the key to the drill for him to be able to maintain that consistency in every practice so he is developing the kind of habits that are going to carry over into the game and help him be successful.”
“Smitty’s been out with his foot for a while and we certainly think that he would be in the mix if he were healthy,” Saban said. “Kristian Story is a dependable guy at the position. So that’s kind of where it’s at right now.”
Smith, a former four-star from Ohio, had been a special teams player his first two seasons in Tuscaloosa. This offseason had seen a potential elevation, with Smith working with other projected starters during the Tide’s Fan Day practice on Aug. 5. Saban said UA was “pleased” with Smith’s progress, while his teammates said Smith was showing a better understanding of the playbook.
Booker’s comments aside, if anyone other than Milroe trots out there first on Saturday it will be quite the surprise. You can check out the entirety of Saban’s presser below.
Alex Scarbrough wrote about Saban’s strategy to take back the SEC.
“The worm is turning because everybody’s gotten so spread-oriented ... that people who now are running the ball are having more success because the defense is more geared to stopping all that stuff than it is to stopping just the straight, old-fashioned running game,” Saban said this summer. “And I think that’s one thing that Georgia has done really, really well.”
Saban recalled playing in the national championship and being ahead of Georgia in the fourth quarter, 18-13. Despite missing starters John Metchie and Jameson Williams at wide receiver, Saban said they were “hanging in there” because the Bulldogs were unsuccessful throwing the ball. Georgia then took the lead on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Stetson Bennett to AD Mitchell, and Saban said it was as if Smart and his staff decided, “OK, here we go.”
Georgia forced Alabama into a three and out and proceeded to ice the game with a seven-play drive that featured six runs and only one pass — a 15-yard touchdown to Brock Bowers that was the final play of the series.
“We couldn’t stop ‘em,” Saban said.
Lest anyone forget, Alabama is only one year removed from a SEC title.
Last, the folks over at CBS ain’t buying this Alabama squad. It made their “most overrated” list.
This is the fifth time in Nick Saban’s Alabama coaching tenure that he’s fielded a team with new coordinators on both sides of the ball. None of the other four teams won the national championship. The Crimson Tide are also replacing former Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young at quarterback and a defensive superstar in Will Anderson Jr. from a team that failed to win its division. Despite all this, voters at SEC Media Days picked Alabama to win the SEC West. AP Top 25 voters pegged the Crimson Tide at No. 4 nationally, and the Coaches Poll put the Crimson Tide at No. 3 behind only Georgia and Michigan. Alabama is talented enough to win the SEC and make the CFP, but the assumption that it will accomplish those things is rooted in nothing more than blind faith in Saban, who turns 72 this season. — Cobb (Fornelli, Backus)
Five more days.
That’s about it for now. Have a great day.