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Everything Nick Saban Said Following Alabama's First Scrimmage of Fall Camp

The Crimson Tide head coach noted that there are multiple improvements to be made, but that the first scrimmage is meant for focus and self-reflection.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The preseason No. 1 Crimson Tide hosted its first scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday afternoon. Following the scrimmage, Alabama head coach Nick Saban is slated to speak with the media at approx. 3 p.m. CT.

Follow along for live updates throughout, and a full transcript and video after. 

Live Updates

  • Saban's press conference is running a little bit behind, but will take place shortly.
  • The press conference has started.
  • "We started out today with a lot of energy, and as things moved along we weren't able to sustain it."
  • "We want everybody to be able to reach their full potential."
  • Saban said that players have to believe that they can overcome things that are hard. He also said that players need to leave the first scrimmage and take the time to self-assess.
  • The scrimmage was way too sloppy and had far too many unnecessary penalties, according to Saban.
  • Saban is ok where the team is.
  • Saban believes that the first offensive line was improved, but the second struggled to protect the QB and the ball.
  • As far as a ball-move scrimmage, there were 25 plays for first offense, 25 for second offense, and same for the defense. They also did a fast ball period. Saban said the threes also got an opportunity.
  • Saban said that the team hasn't practiced much short-yardage situations to this point.
  • Things were inconsistent at receiver today. Prentice was the best of the young guys and stood out from them. Saban said while some good plays were made, there were also a good bit of dropped passes.
  • "We miss Cam, no doubt about it," Saban said about Cameron Latu, who is still out due to injury.
  • Kool-Aid McKinstry did a nice job on punt return. Jermaine Burton is back there as well, and Saban says he has a lot of confidence in him at punt return. Emmanuel Henderson is also an option. Tyler Harrell is a good option at kick returner.
  • Saban is disappointed in the defense in the red zone, the goal line as well as third down. Said that there needs to be better execution. "We shouldn't give up those kind of plays."
  • Kool-Aid did ok at cornerback as well as Terrion Arnold. Eli Ricks is still trying to learn the defense so he can play with confidence. Khyree Jackson was out with a groin injury that Saban says he hopes won't keep him out long. Antonio Kite was moved to corner, which Saban says is a natural position for him.

Nick Saban - Full Transcript - Aug. 13, 2022

Opening Statement

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"So as first scrimmages go, I think the number one goal is you want to evaluate who will go out there and compete. I’ve talked about this many times before, you’re in practice, coaches are telling guys what to do, but for the first time they’re out there on the field they have to be able to show that they are responsible and accountable to do their job. But we also have to evaluate, you know, how can they sustain their effort? Do they have the mental energy to sustain the kind of toughness to overcome a bad play, a dropped ball, a missed assignment? And that’s one of the things that I think we need to do better. We started out today with a lot of energy and as things moved along, we weren’t able to sustain it, and sometimes you’ve got to be able to regain that energy when things are going bad or things get difficult. We want everybody to be able to reach their full potential, do what they’re capable of doing, challenge themselves to be able to do it, and this is a tough time, you know, camp is a tough time to do it. It’s not as tough as it used to be. You know, used to be you’d get two-a-days then we went two-one, two-one. Now we do one-a-days, sometimes in pads, sometimes in shells, sometimes in helmets, which I think is OK for the training of the players. But I also think that players have to overcome and define what is really hard, and what’s my mindset to sort of stay focused on the things I need to do to get better, have positive energy and go about my work in a way where I can improve. And I think the number one thing that you want all players to do after the first scrimmage is say, ‘this is a chance for me to self-assess, self-assess my conditioning level, my ability to sustain, my mental toughness to be able to play the next play and continue to play with the kind of intensity that’s going to help me play winning football and am I a responsible, accountable player that everybody can count on to go out there and do my job in an effective way’. There were a lot of good things out there on the field today, but we got sloppy at times, had way too many penalties and a lot of undisciplined type penalties, whether they were illegal formations, offsides on defense. All things that are correctable. I thought the kicking game was good, the specialists executed fairly well, so I’m not disappointed in any way but I think at this point you would expect to need to practice to improve on a lot of things, and after only having eight, nine practices, whatever we’ve had at this point, I'm sort of ok with where we are but also very much enthused about the challenges that we have to try to work to try to get guys better so that we have more guys who can play winning football."

Q: Thoughts on the offensive line?

"Well, it's really hard to evaluate but I thought the first offensive line was improved. I thought the second offensive line struggled, struggled in protection, struggled to run the ball. But I was encouraged by the running backs and some of the plays that they were able to make, some of the runs that they were able to run. So, I would say all in all I thought the first line made some improvement, I thought the second line struggled a little bit at times, but I think every unit had its ups and downs and I think that’s what I'm talking about when I talk about maintaining consistency."

Q: What situations did the team spend the most time on?

"Well, we did move the field like a game probably for 25 plays for the first offense, 25 plays for the second offense, same thing for the defensive guys. We did a third down period. We did a red zone period. We did a goal line period. We did a coming-out period. We actually did a fastball period and two-minute period. So those are all the situations we covered. But the first 50-something plays, the threes also got an opportunity in move the field-type situations. So I think those are things that give you more of the flow of the game. And I think in the next scrimmage, we'll want the scrimmage to be more game-like."

Q: Any focus on short-yardage run situations?

"Well, we haven't really worked on short yardage a whole lot up to this point. I don't disagree with you. You know, there were times we had first-and-three at the three and struggled to run it. There were times we had short-yardage situations, but I think we had to do a lot of self-evaluation in the offseason. Quality control on what we do, how we create ways to run the ball effectively against eight-man fronts, which is what you get in those situations, and not allow them to force us to throw the ball but have enough confidence that we can get enough movement to gain a yard or two. I think that's something that we want to get better at."

Q: Thoughts on receivers today after JoJo Earle injury?

"We were inconsistent at receiver today. We made some really good plays. We dropped some balls. I think Kobe Prentice, probably of the young guys, I think he had like five catches. He was probably the guy that stood out the most of the young players. But each and every day, there's a different guy that shows that they have some ability to do some things in a really positive way. So I think if I was gonna evaluate the group, I would say we all need to play with more consistency. We got to get at quarterback really comfortable with the receivers that we're gonna play with in the spots they're going to play. That's got to be a goal for us in the coming weeks."

Q: Tight ends after Cameron Latu injury?

"Well, we miss Cam. No doubt. He's a very good player and has a lot of experience and a multi-faceted guy. He's a pretty good receiver. He's a good athlete. He's got pretty good speed. He's a good blocker. So all the other tight ends that we have right now other than Robbie Ouzts, who is a little more of an H-type of guy, they're all young players. There's probably a lot of anxiety out there with a lot the young players today, first scrimmage. So I can't evaluate them just based on what I saw today. We do have some guys that can be effective pass-catchers, but I think that all young players have a long way to go to really understand the things they need to do, in the passing game especially, which takes a lot more precision so that they can get open, they can read the coverages, they can be on the same page with the quarterback. So that's a work in progress with the young guys."

Q: What did you see in the kick return game aside from Jahmyr Gibbs?

"Kool-Aid did a nice job on punt return. We're working with some other people back there. Burton is back there, I've got a lot of confidence in him in punt return. I think Emmanuel Henderson can be a dynamic returner. I think Tyler Harrell can do kickoff returns — probably not a punt returner. So I think we've got some guys that are capable. I just think we sort of have to continue to try to develop and see who comes to the forefront."

Q: How would you assess the defense played today?

"The defense started out playing fairly well. Disappointed in the way we played in the red zone and the goal line, made some mistakes on third down, so when our energy level and our intensity is good and we communicate well, we seem to play pretty well together. As things sort of move along in the scrimmage and those things start to dissipate a little bit, we probably don't execute as well as we could and gave up a couple of plays that — we're really better. We shouldn't give up those kind of plays."

Q: How's the depth at inside linebacker outside of Henry To'oTo'o?

"Jaylen Moody has done a really good job at that position. We've got several young guys that we continue to work with and, you know, there's a lot of volume of information that they've gotten and we do pretty big installs. The offense has done pretty big installs, so they see a lot of different things and they have to learn a lot of different things, so it'll be interesting to see how those guys sort of develop this week. But nobody's disappointed, but I'd say [that] a lot of the young ones are swimming a little bit."

Q: What did you see from the cornerbacks today?

"Kool-Aid did ok. Terrion Arnold has done a really good job so far in camp. Eli Ricks is still trying to learn the defense so he can go out and play with confidence. Khyree is out, so he didn't participate today with a little bit of a groin injury that hopefully won't keep him out long. So some of the young players are coming along. We moved Antonio Kite to corner, which I think is a natural position for him and he's done a pretty good job there. So I'm sure that if you asked them they'd all say there's things they need to improve on. When I watch the film I'm sure I'm going to be talking to 'em about what they need to improve on as well, but I think the big thing is to keep people cut off, don't give up big plays — that's gotta be a critical piece for what we have to do at the corner position."