Daily COVID-19 Testing Pivotal for Alabama And Highlights From Hey Coach with Nick Saban Radio Show

Tyler Martin

University of Alabama coach Nick Saban's weekly, in-season radio show, 'Hey Coach with Nick Saban,' returned on Thursday night and he revealed some good news concerning the availability of his squad for the opener on Saturday against Missouri.

 “We haven’t had a lot of positive tests lately, knock on wood,” Saban said. “We don’t have a lot of guys out for the game.”

Normally, Saban would have been in person with host, Eli Gold, at Baumhower's Victory Grille, but instead, was on the air via Zoom at his home. Special media guest Todd Blackledge was also featured. 

Under SEC rules and protocol, traveling teams are only allowed to bring 70 athletes on the road and Saban said that, earlier in the day, the coaching staff made up the travel squad.

“We try to put a limitation on the number at each position," Saban said. "Sometimes that changes relative to injury. We want to take 11 offensive linemen, five running backs, at least five tight ends, at least three quarterbacks. We like to take eight wide receivers, or nine, nine at least defensive linemen. We take like 13 linebackers but they’re all on special teams and then I think we’re taking 10 or 11 defensive backs.

“After the two deep, special teams becomes a big part of who gets to go and who doesn’t and we always come up a little short.”

Alabama has been testing daily, so contact tracing has not been an issue for the Crimson Tide program up to this point.

Highlights of Hey Coach with Nick Saban 

  • UA baseball coach Brad Bohannon says this is the most confident he has with the roster entering fall ball. Notes that the losses of Tyler Gentry and Brett Auerbach will be tough to overcome, but feels like the experience is there this year and won't have to 'force' young players into difficult situations.
  • "I wouldn't trade Sam Praytor for any catcher in America," Bohannon said. He also stated that he looks like one of the best players in all of college baseball.
  • "80-90 percent of the roster is noticably better than it was six months ago." Good news for Crimson Tide fans as the team was 16-1 before the season was shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Saban has now joined the show along with Blackledge and is curious to know from a broadcaster's perspective how teams have adjusted to game-like situations with the different preseason practices and such.
  • The experienced players have handled the pandemic a lot better the younger players according to Saban. Says experience will be key this season.
  • Because of the daily testing, contact tracing has not been a huge issue for the Crimson Tide.
  • "I'm ready to play. It's time to play and see what we have." - Saban
  • He also noted that there have not been many positive COVID-19 tests recently. "Knock on wood."
  • Saban says the coaching staff has made its travel squad list and, in addition, made a supplementary list of players who will travel if a positive test occurs on Friday. He reiterates how important it is for younger players to be ready at any moment. 
  • Each freshman is talented enough to play early according to Saban, but the difference is each of their learning curves. Newcomers, linebacker Will Anderson and safety Malachi Moore are slated to start against the Tigers.
  • The message to Mack Jones throughout fall camp has been "look forward, not over your shoulder." Saban, again, is very complimentary of the job he has done leading up to the season.
  • Saban expressed his disappointment that the NCAA moved the recruiting dead period until Jan. 1, 2021, but has gotten use to and adjusting nicely to the virtual aspect of it. He also said that the program could take three more commitments in the 2021 class.
  • With limited capacities at stadiums across the SEC, Saban has told his players that they will need to bring the spirit of the game and has challenged them to have a 'killer' DNA, to compete and create value for theirselves. "They are getting evaluated no matter if there are fans in the stands or not."
  • This could be bad news for Missouri. "Dylan [Moses] is looking like his old self ... He's as good as he has ever been.".
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