Tide in shape as camp begins

Jerrell Harris will stay at OLB

Alabama enters fall camp in better condition than last year. Something Tide fans will welcome as a sign the Process(trademark, copyright, etc.) is well underway.

Alabama head football coach Nick Saban said the players worked hard during the summer to get ready.

“I think our team is in a little better condition right now relative to the summer conditioning program,” Saban said. “We’ve had a very good off season…The players have worked very hard in the summer. We feel a little bit better about where we at right now starting out at least from a conditioning standpoint.”

With the conditioning program bearing fruit, the focus turns to developing the right type of football habits.

Habits. I’d swear Nick Saban was a fanatical Aristotelean. He is always talking about habits. We are what we habitually do. Or something like that.

“The focus on camp, however, should be about getting the details right,” Saban said. “Pay attention to details. Focus on what you need to do to be a complete player at your position to create the right kind of habits. The design of camp is to create winnable games with the habits we create by the kind of practice fundamentals that we try to incorporate in our practice design.

“So to be able to sustain that performance for 60 minutes in a game is a part of conditioning; it’s a part of mental toughness. We want to create the kind of habits that are going to allow our players to perform at high levels of consistency to be able to sustain that and play winning football.”

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Habits also play a role in attrition. Saban pledged he wasn’t giving up on Mike Shula’s players still in the Tide system. He didn’t want players to leave. The most effective way to prevent attrition? Better habits.

“We’ll we really want to try and develop good habits with our players so that we don’t have attrition on our squad,” Saban said. “I think that if you look across the board, you will see a certain amount of attrition in most programs…We want to try and continue to develop the players and the program now and compliment them with the best talent that we can recruit.”
Practice sessions for the 105 players who reported today, are split. Saban cautioned fans and media should not read too much into who practice with what group. Players are split primarily based on the need to have enough people to run an effective practice.

Why are the practices split? Saban said to provide more time for the coaches to orient and evaluate the younger players.

One area under tight scrutiny tomorrow and the coming weeks, linebacker.

Where will the incoming freshmen linebackers play?

If you guessed linebacker, you’d be right.

Saban did provide a few more details than that however.

“We are going to start most of the young players, except Jerrell Harris, who has always played outside linebacker, at inside ‘backer,” Saban said. “Hopefully, we will be able to leave one or two of those guys at inside ‘backer, but because all of these guys have played some kind of defensive end or outside ‘backer in their high school career, maybe move them back where they might be a little more natural early in their career.  I think from our team standpoint, we need to determine who can be an inside ‘backer of our freshman to add depth and competition to what we have.”

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Personnel issues
•Prince Hall is on the team. He faces a three-game suspension. “He will start practicing. He will face some suspension. He will not play in the first three games.”

•Will Oakley has a stress fracture in his foot. He won’t be able to practice for three weeks. He is not in the 105-man group reporting, but is taking treatment. He will rejoin the team when school starts. Saban said Oakley knows the offense, and had a good Spring.

•Patrick Crump has left the team for personal reasons, as was reported last night by the Birmingham News.

•“We have three freshmen who did not qualify,” Saban said. Devonta Bolton and Brandon Lewis enrolled in junior college, and Kerry Murphy has not been cleared, Saban confirmed.

Murphy is expected to eligible in January.

•Jermaine Preyear will take a medical in the fall, and return to the team in January. “It is in effect a grayshirt situation for an injury situation,” Saban said.

•Destin Hood and Melvin Ray elected to pursue pro baseball. “They know that the opportunity here still exists if they ever want to come and play college football,” Saban said.