The University of Alabama football team had its first practice in full pads Wednesday, the team’s third overall of the spring.
Head coach Nick Saban said he was pleased with the way his team has been progressing.
“After watching everyone running around in shirts and helmets, they look a little quicker, a little faster,” Saban said. “They get the pads on, and it’s just something that the players have to get used to. But I thought the effort was good. The attention to detail has been good.”
Despite the team’s effort and focus, some of the players said putting on pads for the first time was somewhat difficult. Sophomore tackle Cyrus Kouandjio said it took some time to get used to being dressed out fully again.
“At first, I’m saying to myself, ‘Man, I just got out of season. I’m tired,’” Kouandjio said. “But once you get on the field, start getting on warming up, start feeling yourself again, you feel good.”
Senior cornerback Deion Belue shared the same sentiments as Kouandjio, but said he was glad to be back in pads and able to hit people again.
“Today, it felt like we just got off the field, and now we’re back on the field full contact again,” Belue said. “But it was fun. It was fun being the first day. It was a great day for us outside to put the pads on.”
Players getting used to new coaches
The team has to adjust to more than just the usual round of new players this spring. With the departure of five coaches in the offseason, the team has also been using the spring to get to know their new coaches.
Still, some of the players have said they see no difference in the demeanor between their former coaches and their replacements. Junior safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said new secondary coach Greg Brown has already made his presence felt among the defensive backs. He said he sees no difference between Brown and former secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt.
“None at all,” Clinton-Dix said. “Coach Brown is a great coach. Him and coach Pruitt both get on you when you do something wrong. You just got to stick to it.”
Kouandjio said he hasn’t had enough time to tell if he sees any differences between former offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland and his current replacement, Mario Cristobal. Much like Clinton-Dix, Kouandjio said he sees numerous similarities between his former and current coach.
“They’re both good coaches,” Kouandjio said. “Both really technical coaches. They’re really down with the little things. They both push you. They’re really high energy coaches.”
Indeed, that is part of the reason Saban said he hired on Cristobal.
“He’s done a really good job teaching them,” Saban said. “He’s got good energy and enthusiasm. He brings some good ideas. That’s always welcome with new coaches. … Everything about this, as far from a transition standpoint, has been positive.”
Offensive line continuing to experiment
One of the positions which has the most talent to replace this spring is the offensive line, which lost three linemen to the NFL Draft in April.
With that said, Saban and his players said they feel the new offensive line is coming together nicely, and all the players have improved steadily since practice began. Saban said he has taken advantage of this to try people out at different positions.
“We move around,” Saban said. “They play guard one day and tackle the next. We’re finding out what they can do.”
Kouandjio said he feels confident the offensive line will be fine come fall.
“The sky’s the limit for us,” Kouandjio said. “The sky’s the limit.”
Leading in today’s Crimson White: