Hunter: Saban looking for hunting dogs

Editor’s note: Hunter’s shared some photographs from A-Day. Click here to see them in our A-Day gallery.

John Parker Wilson throws the ball while protected by Andre Smith

By Hunter Ford

Alabama head football coach Nick Saban says he still has some players who are “Too worried about how their britches fit or how their hairdo looks.”

“We don’t need anymore show dogs,” he said. “We have enough of those. I want to find some hunting dogs. I want some guys who are interested in lining up and dominating the guy in front of them.”

Saban made the comments during the press conference following Saturday’s annual A-Day scrimmage.

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I was in attendance at this year’s game and last year’s game. Last year when 92,000 plus showed up to greet Saban, the atmosphere was more electric.

This year, with 78,200 fans, the atmosphere around the stadium was less exciting. The play on the field?

It’s hard to gauge. After all, it is just a glorified scrimmage.

At times players looked as if they were going half speed.

John Parker Wilson looked like the same quarterback we all saw last year; impressive at times, and erratic at times.

Wilson had some decent stats, throwing for nearly 300 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

But, he had 34 attempts, completing exactly 50 percent. And one of his touchdowns was a short completion that running back Terry Grant turned into a 75-yard sprint for the score.

Grant looked impressive. On the aforementioned scoring run you could see the vapor trail from his jets.

Backup quarterback Greg McElroy had fewer pass attempts and he completed less than 50 percent for 196 yards, with one TD and one interception. McElroy seemed confident. I was surprised his stats weren’t better because he seemed to execute better than the other quarterbacks. By comparison, the third and fourth string quarterbacks, Nick Fanuzzi and Thomas Darrah looked like “Nuke” LaRoushe- plenty of arm strength but no control.

Saban said that he has more players this year exhibiting leadership on the field and expecting their teammates to play to a higher level.

“When you are out there giving everything you’ve got why wouldn’t you expect you teammates to do the same?” Saban said.

“I looked into the players eyes and some of them looked good,” Saban explained. “And some of them looked like a brook trout.”

When a reporter asked Saban to explain the “brook trout” analogy, the coach gave a classic response.

“Have you ever been fishing? No? Well, you wouldn’t understand.”

In spring games, nobody really cheers for the defense. Once again, it is hard to really evaluate the level of play in a scrimmage game. Ali Sharrief and Charlie Higgenbotham led the Crimson defense with eight tackles each. Corey Reamer recorded six tackles at linebacker for the White squad and safety Rashad Johnson had two interceptions.

Former running back Jimmy Johns looked confident at his new linebacker position, and he seemed happy to be there.

Johns was swamped by reporters at the post game conference. He dutifully answered all the questions directed at him personally. I was more interested in getting the players’ take on how good they can be as a team.

I asked Johns if Saban has set goals for them.

“Our goal is to come together as a team,” Johns said. “Our goal is to be one…to be one unit. We want to be the best team we can be. If we focus on that then everything else will take care of itself.”
I asked Reamer the same question and got basically the same exact answer. Saban’s mental coaching seems to be catching on.

You can read more from Hunter Ford at his blog Alagonzo.blogspot.com. Ford’s columns also appear in Bessemer’s Western Star newspaper.