After a week off due to spring break, the Alabama Crimson Tide got back down to business and began their second full week of spring practice.
Nick Saban and his staff continue to work on developing the entire roster, with experiments along the offensive line and at linebacker headlining the newest developments this week.
News of the Week
The shifting of players to different positions continued on both sides of the ball this week, as detailed by Marq Burnett of The Anniston Star.
The biggest change was inserting sophomore Brandon Greene—who saw action last season at tight end—into the starting group at left tackle. Burnett reports that Leon Brown, who was taking reps with the ones at left tackle last week, worked in the same spot with the twos.
The other move that may pique the interest of Tide fans came on defense, where Reggie Ragland took snaps at outside linebacker. The junior has spent most of his first two seasons working at the two inside spots in the middle level of the Tide’s defense.
On the negative side, Andrew Gribble of AL.com reported that sophomore running back Altee Tenpenny was arrested over spring break in his home town of Little Rock, Ark., and charged with possession of a controlled substance.
"I’m aware of the situation with Altee and this is obviously not the kind of behavior we expect from our players," Saban said. "In addition to any punishment he may receive from a legal standpoint, we will have some internal discipline as well as education that he will be responsible for working through."
QB Competition Update
Saban has often stated that the quest to pick AJ McCarron’s successor is unlikely to end any time soon. With that caveat in mind, getting quality information on the five quarterbacks currently competing for the job is a chore.
However, perhaps the most revealing information about the spring competition came from an unlikely source—senior safety Nick Perry.
“It's going to be a good competition,” Perry told Gribble.
We have four or five good guys who are getting the reps. You have Blake Sims who is an experienced guy. Then you have Alec Morris who is a gunslinger. You have (Cooper) Bateman, who's more of a Greg McElroy type, AJ McCarron type. It's going to be a good competition so be prepared for it.
Saban Being Saban
It’s not exactly uncommon for Saban to express displeasure during the spring, and with one question about the perceived depth along the defensive line, the Tide’s head coach quickly tempered any budding enthusiasm about that unit’s progress.
“They’ve got a long way to go,” Saban told Marc Torrence of BamaOnline.
“I’m not satisfied with the way any of them are playing, if you want to know the truth about it. They’ve got to be more aggressive, physical, play with better leverage, hold the point better, rush the passer better.”
As Travis Reier of BamaOnline points out, the lack of experienced bodies at defensive end and the recent pectoral injury that will keep nose guard Darren Lake out for the rest of spring have Saban bristling at the idea of that unit being anything except unsettled.
Alabama fans and reporters who cover the team can identify with the trouble of figuring out an accurate depth chart—and that’s because Saban himself says that the team doesn’t have one yet.
"Well we really don't have a depth chart,” Saban told Michael Casagrande of AL.com. “Really what we're trying to do is coach every guy so they can be the best player they can be and nobody should judge anybody and nobody should pout about anything. Everybody should be focused on getting better."
1st Scrimmage Looming
Even though Saban despises the idea of having a depth chart in spring, that doesn’t mean players can’t make a move to position themselves for playing time in the fall over the course of the next few weeks.
The best chance for that to occur is to perform well in scrimmages and the Tide are scheduled to hold their first one of the spring on Saturday.
With these practices representing the closest simulations to the type of atmosphere the team will see during the season, it represents a great opportunity for players to show the improvement they have made in the offseason.
“The first scrimmage you want to get out there and see what you know without the coaches being right there in your ear, telling you plays,” senior running back Jalston Fowler told Torrence.
“Everyone’s looking forward to that first scrimmage to get that coach out of your ear and see what they can do on their own,” he said.