Alabama Football: What Alabama Needs From Spring Practice
By: Larry Burton
Touchdown Alabama photo by Mike Lacy Scene from last year’s spring A Day game.
Things in Tuscaloosa are a mixed bag right now. As the final seconds of the 2013 BCS National Championship Game ticked off, people realized that this was a team returning enough firepower to more than possibly, but almost certainly return for next year’s championship. After all, there were just too many stars returning on that high powered offense and stifling defense and even the people leaving for the NFL had playing time worth subs that may wind up being just as good as those who left.
With another stellar recruiting class, yet another national leading top bunch of recruits, it was going to be hard to derail this juggernaut by any outside source.
But the thing that could and may cause this train to jump the tracks is the team itself.
Since that championship game and another number one recruiting class with players who will see the field this coming year, the team has players to transfers and may lose more. But what’s more disheartening is the loss of four players who would have all had a chance to be real players be booted from the team for illegal actions of theft, assault and battery on fellow students and other infractions.
This are students from the Nick Saban team that were supposed to have been “processed” in a system that teaches not only the skills and physical attributes to be better football players, but the mental and emotional faculties that made them better students and better more responsible men.
These men all have at least a year in the system, yet something failed and failed miserably. Are there other cracks in the “process” that Alabama fans should fear are about to raise their heads?
That is the question that bothers the knowledgeable Alabama fan worries about. And this is why.
When I interviewed AJ McCarron following the dismal 2010 season that saw Alabama lose three games with a team that should have also repeated as national champions, he said, “We just didn’t do all the little things that we did in 2009. We lost focus and just didn’t stay on task like we could have and should have. This year is going to different. We are going back to what we know works.”
And that is exactly what Alabama needs to see happen from this day forward and into and following spring practice.
With some of the team still in disbelief that some of their own could punch, stomp beat into unconsciousness and rob a fellow student, all aware that this is a team with problems that need to be addressed and fixed. This is a team that needs focus more than replacement talent for the ones who are gone. This is a team that needs accountability to ones self and ones team members more than a bruising linebacker a talented receiver and more.
Alabama has more than enough talent to overcome any losses of personnel they’ve had since those final seconds ticked off in Miami against Notre Dame. The X’s and O’s will all come into place as will the experience the young players will have by season’s important end.
What needs to come from spring practice is a united team. One that holds themselves and their team mates to a level of accountability that keeps such things as have happened before, from happening again. The talent, strength, leadership and ability is all there.
Alabama players just need to immerse themselves in the process again that focuses on getting one’s mind in the right place. If they do that, this could be the first “threepeat” team that will place them in the land of legends.
Larry is an award winning writer whose work has appeared in almost every college football venue. Now he primarily writes for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Follow Larry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter