TUSCALOOSAâ€”Aristotle said that a man is what he habitually does. For the last few seasons, Alabamaâ€™s football players havenâ€™t been hard workers in conditioning or on the practice field. The players (and past coachers) were complacent. And Nick Saban canâ€™t change years of neglect and incompetence and complacency in one night. At least that was what he said at his Tuesday press conference. Rather the process of rebuilding is a long road paved with conditioning and new habits.
â€œIt takes time and it is getting better all the time,â€ Saban said. â€œIt is not where we want it to be and I am not disappointed in where it is, but we need to do better.â€
â€œWe need more guys to make a more serious effort…in the mental part of (the game),â€ Saban said. He indicated players were struggling to learn elements of the new offensive and defensive systems. Understanding the system would allow the team to practice faster. Saban wants this to establish a tempo that is upbeat, getting in and out of the huddle fast.
Saban constantly talks about consistency. It is the main theme of his comments on every practice session. One area of disappointment is on the offense.
â€œWe have got to start converting opportunities offensively,â€ Saban said. That isnâ€™t good news for fans waiting on improvements to the offense over Mike Shulaâ€™s inept teams. â€œWe are not finishing those plays now. The good news is the guys are getting to where they can make big plays now, but we just have to get where we can finish them.â€
Saban said the offensive line has been one of the most impressive parts of the squad based on the way they work together and execute. â€œThey are making good progress,â€ Saban said.
â€¨Saban is experimenting with Taylor Pharr and Ali Sharieff on defense. Saban explained the moves were not position changes, but simply experiments. Pharr on the line and Sharieff at defensive back. â€œIt is important that we come out of spring practice knowing if we have options on our team,â€ Saban said. â€œWe are just looking at people. We looked at them on defense, and weâ€™ll probably look at them for a couple of days until we get an idea of whether theyâ€™ll be able to help us relative to their role being more significant on that side of the ball than it was where it is.â€