TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — With slick fields and storms in the area, the Alabama football team headed inside on Friday to finish its prep for the first scrimmage of fall camp.
The Crimson Tide practiced in helmets and shoulder pads for two hours inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility.
The first scrimmage, set for Saturday, is the benchmark for the team, when coaches can measure just how far the players have come and begin to assess who is ready to make a contribution.
That's during a normal year. This is anything but, which has affected every aspect of the organization and preparation.
For example, Saban is a creature of habit when it comes to most things, including scheduling. This year, though, Alabama has an extended camp, in part to help make up for the canceled spring, and more days off leading up to the regular season.
"We’re kind of doing these first two weeks like spring practice so we’re practicing Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday," he said earlier this week. "It gives us a good chance to teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays and still be within the 20-hour sort of work week to try to get these guys ready to go out in the scrimmage on Saturday, so that we can evaluate and see how especially some of the younger players, if they’re mature enough to go out there and compete when the coach is not standing right there behind them kind of helping them along.
"That’s kind of the next step of what we’d really like to do."
Scrimmages are usually held at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Rain and storms from Hurricane Laura have drenched Tuscaloosa, but might have moved on by the time the Crimson Tide hits the field.
Meanwhile, there's the additional preparation of getting as many players ready to play as possible due to contract tracing protocols that could sideline anyone who has been exposed to anyone testing positive. That includes contact in a game.
Consequently, Alabama is having players learn more than one position as well.
"Haven’t really had anybody cross the ball," said Saban, meaning that no one has switched from offense to defense and vice-versa. "We’ve met with a couple guys in case that becomes an issue, but we haven’t really practiced anybody that way. Hopefully, we’ll be able to develop enough depth internally that we’ll feel good about every position.”