Practice Report: Alabama Begins to Hone in on First Opponent, Missouri

Christopher Walsh

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Alabama football team continued to hone in on the start to its 2020 college football season.

The Crimson Tide held a two-hour practice outside on Wednesday afternoon. 

Conditions were 73 degrees and cloudy. Although Hurricane Sally finally achieved landfall on the Gulf Coast on Wednesday morning, all indications were that Tuscaloosa would be spared of the storm's impact.

It's during this three-day stretch of Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday that Alabama is making the transition from camp- to regular-season mode and start installing the game plan for Missouri on Sept. 26. 

Although the Tigers will be a difficult preparation due to having a new head coach, Eliah Drinkwitz, Saban traditionally doesn't like to begin installation too early because it can become monotonous to the players. 

"I think the big focus for us this week was to improve," he said Wednesday evening. "We obviously had a lot of things that coming off the second scrimmage that we had penciled in that we needed to do better. Still some situations that we need to cover. This is kind of hump week for the players in a lot of ways. But I think we need to do everything better. I think we have to have a little better focus and intensity in practice. I think we need to not get sloppy in terms of the fundamental techniques that we’ve been working on for a long time so we can actually go to a game and play the way we need to play so that we can have success individually and collectively as a group and as units. 

"So I think everything needs to improve. We need to improve the technique. We need to improve the look we get from the other team. We need to improve the way we practice — how fast, how physical we finish plays. So we need to improve a lot of things. We did start a little bit today on getting ready for the first game. We’ll continue to do that tomorrow. I think that’s something that players have to get in their sights, that we have a game coming up and we’re not practicing just to practice. They have to change their mindset, and with that changes the sense of urgency, immediacy, playing smart, getting things in meetings and being able to take it to the field, and getting your mind right so you’re ready to compete and play a game."

The other priorities during this time frame are to get an early look at some unusual things the players will see later in the season, and to firm up the depth chart. 

One of the final decisions is on the offensive line, where a starting center has to be selected. 

Saban is expected to announced the initial depth chart on Monday.

Alabama will play a unique 10-game SEC-only schedule, with home games played before 20 percent of capacity at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

"Most of my goals are team based, so pretty much how well the team does," junior wide receiver Jaylen Waddle said. 

Alabama practice, Sept. 16, 2020

Courtesy of Alabama Athletics

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