Coach Nick Saban briefly spoke to the media Wednesday as we inch closer to the beginning of the college football season. While the Big Ten and Pac-12 seasons remain cancelled, the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 are staying the course. Coach Saban stuck around to answer questions for 15 minutes, so don’t expect a long read here, but I will nonetheless give you my notes on what Saban had to say.
Coach Saban began the press conference speaking about how much different this week has been in terms of intensity relative to the first two weeks. He says the goal this week was to emulate a typical game practice week during a normal season, and by doing that, he explained that Tuesday and Wednesday are tough sessions for the team. Fridays, he remarked, are light and give players time to rehabilitate before the toughest practice session on Saturday, which would normally be a game. He says that they will practice Saturday, and while it won’t be a scrimmage, it will include a lot of game-like situations to allow the players to better understand their respective assignments.
Saban says that they work daily on developing mental toughness to prepare the team for tough situations. He wants the team to focus on improving their weaknesses rather than focusing on any given outcome in practice or games, saying that success is determined by consistency and performance.
When addressing the march that Coach Saban led with the team on Monday, he says that he doesn’t have an opinion on others’ opinions. He was very proud of the leadership the team projected in wanting to use their platform to spread a message, and believes that it has helped to improve their lives on a personal level. He added that players have not endorsed any organizations.
When asked about specific players, Saban gave straightforward answers on his opinions on the athlete in question. He says that LaBryan Ray adds something that the team currently needs more of. He remarks that Ray has shown remarkable athleticism, improved quickness, and outstanding work on the pass rush. Saban says that the defensive line needs more guys with those traits. He adds that athleticism and speed on the D-line is increasingly important due to the increased usage of the spread offense.
On Evan Neal: Saban says Evan Neal is very powerful and a prototype tackle. He says that he is a good pass-blocker and difficult for defenders to get around. He says that Neal is very smart, conscientous, and that he is very pleased with his performance.
On WR’s: Coach Saban delivered high praise for the wide receiver corp. He says John Metchee and Bolden have improved significantly, and Javon Baker is showing promise. The only thing lacking, according to Saban, is the group’s consistency, which he says needs to be improved.
Saban was also asked about the possibility of players deciding to opt-out. He says that while the current situation is unique, he anticipates that all of his players are going to want to play. He feels that it is important for guys that made a commitment to play football do what they committed to do. He also says that playing creates more value than those that choose not to, but notes that there are several variables relative to the current situation to consider.
When asked about what he thinks about the team’s performance as a whole, he says that there has not been enough continuity to have an opinion overall. He says that the new guys need to mature into their roles and new leaders need to display leadership, but understands that it’s a process. He says that he is not disappointed in the manner in which the team is currently developing and he believes that they are on the right track.
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Layne Gerbig covers all sports at The University of AlabamaforTide Talk Sports. Follow him on Twitter @DeutscheBammer, and don’t forget to check back on this website for regular updates!