TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — After the departure of so many veteran players, Alabama football has quite a young team on its hands.
In fact, of the 119 of players on the Crimson Tide’s roster, 16 of those players are listed as freshmen and a whopping 55 players are listed as either sophomores or redshirt sophomores.
During his press conference on Tuesday, coach Nick Saban said that his team has had to work a significant amount on fundamentals during the Crimson Tide’s spring practices due to the amount of young players on the team.
“I'm not satisfied with the progress that we made as a team, but I think what will really be interesting in the first scrimmage is — and because we have so many young players here you know basically all the freshmen that we had last year plus the 15 new guys that we have that came in as mid year, so we have a lot of really young players on the team — so it'll be interesting to see how they do in the scrimmage on Saturday when there's no coach standing on the field, telling them what to do,” Saban said.
Alabama’s first scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium is scheduled to be held this coming Friday. With it will come a lot of development for the young players who have played a timed down in a Crimson Tide uniform.
Saban added that ahead of Friday’s scrimmage, the team will practice situational drills in order to prepare themselves for the game-like situations that come with scrimmages.
“I've talked about this before, you know, it's important that guys have enough confidence, not only in what they're supposed to do, but how they're supposed to do it and why it's important to do it that way,” Saban said. “So we'll keep working on that and Thursday's practice will be a lot of situational stuff that we'll want to practice in a scrimmage, whether it's two minutes, we did go live in the day we did short yardage last practice. We'll do things like coming out, things like that that we just want to make sure we hit those situations as we go.
“I'm pleased with the way the players have gone about what they're doing to try to improve. We're not satisfied with where we are. So we want to continue to work hard to get better.”
One of the more concerning issues of having so many young players is the leadership factor. As seen on the team last year, with multiple veteran players that hold leadership roles on the team are able to help coaches instruct as well as provide an experienced example for the inexperienced.
Saban said that developing leadership on such a young team is important and that while there hasn’t been as much of it this season in spring practices, he expects leaders to begin to emerge by the summer.
“I think leadership is something that we continue to work on with our team but you know sometimes leadership sort of comes at the top, you know when it's needed,” Saban said. “And I think the time that leadership really shows itself on a team is when the coaches aren't always involved and that usually happens in the summer so we'll kind of see how that develops when the time comes.”