That year, Alabama posted a 10-3 record — underwhelming for a Tide team that may have been more talented than its national title-winning predecessor. At times, it seemed to play an entitled brand of football and found itself on the losing end of more games than it wanted.
Alabama begins 2012 in the same situation. The Tide won its second title in three years in 2011, but enters spring practice with the sting of 2010 in the back of its mind. The Alabama players said they don’t want another letdown after a national championship year.
“One of our things this year is just to prevent everything that happened two years ago,” linebacker Nico Johnson said. “That’s one thing we’re thriving on right now, is just trying to prevent all that by working hard, staying in the film room and paying attention to detail.”
There are many players still on the team who experienced the disappointing 2010 season. Quarterback AJ McCarron played behind then-starter Greg McElroy, and Johnson appeared in 12 of the Tide’s 14 games.
But Johnson and McCarron will be leaders on both sides of the ball in 2012, and the two will do whatever it takes to avoid another national championship hangover.
“It fell back on the leaders back then. Coach [Nick Saban] will tell you. We didn’t have a lot of leadership [in 2010],” McCarron said. “We’ve got a lot of older guys on here, we’ve got a lot of younger guys. I think it’s going to be a good mix up.
“We’ve got the ingredients for a great season, we just have to put everything together and get everybody going.”
“It’s always work — never be satisfied,” Johnson said. “I’ve been here so long, I’ve won two national championships. It’s like, ‘What is my motivation?’ I’m trying to motivate myself day in, day out to just keep working, never being satisfied and always stay hungry. Always know you can get better.”
Players pleased with scrimmage
Alabama held its first scrimmage of spring practice on Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Offensively, the Tide moved the ball well through the air. McCarron completed 25 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.
“I feel like we moved the ball really well,” he said. “The only time we didn’t was when we hurt ourselves, a few penalties, turned the ball over, but other than that, we moved the ball well and made well.”
The running game was a different story.
With projected starter Eddie Lacy out for spring with a turf toe injury and Blake Sims still nursing a tweaked hip, junior Jalston Fowler has been the de facto starter through spring practice. He rushed for 27 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries during the scrimmage. Redshirt freshman Dee Hart led all rushers with 32 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
“They’re not 100 percent at running back,” Johnson said about the running game’s struggles. “Lacy’s out, Blake is out, they’re just going with what they’ve got right now.”