Quick Hits: Alabama spring practice #3
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We’ve reached the middle of the week. It was warm Wednesday, but the sun had no effect on Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban. He and his staff had the players on the practice field, preparing for A-Day on Apr. 18, 2015. Touchdown Alabama Magazine’s own Maxwell Taylor and Stephen M. Smith were taking in the action. Both guys returned with a six pack of questions, breaking down how day three of spring practice went.
Q1 Maxwell: In practice today, we saw quarterbacks Alec Morris and Jake Coker working with the veteran receivers. What do you think of this trend?
A1 Stephen: Alec Morris is entering his fourth year in the system. He’s the most knowledgeable quarterback in the rotation. Morris understands how to lead receivers in stride with solid passes. Jake Coker is starting to feel more comfortable under offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. His mechanics in the pocket are much better.
Q2 Maxwell: We spoke with running back Derrick Henry today, and he seems poised for a huge season in 2015 as a player and a leader in the locker room. What makes Henry special?
A2 Stephen: Henry’s work ethic makes him special. Coach Saban said Henry excelled in Alabama’s offseason program. We know he’s a physical freak (6-foot-3, 240 pounds), but it’s a combination of speed and size that makes Henry a dangerous back. Saban said Henry has improved in area where he doesn’t have the ball, including pass protection.
Q3 Maxwell: Nick Saban called out cornerback Eddie Jackson during his press conference today. He said that Jackson needs to improve a lot at the position. What does he lack as a corner?
A3 Stephen: Eddie Jackson needs to improve his footwork. He was beaten off the line of scrimmage numerous times last season. Jackson has a tendency of allowing bigger receivers to box him out on 50/50 balls. He has to work on his leaping abilities and establish solid position in coverage. Jackson has size and hands, but his technique has to be more efficient.
Q4 Maxwell: I am very impressed with Alabama’s receiver Cam Sims. I have the feeling that he is going to be a breakout player for the Crimson Tide. What’s your opinion on Sims?
A4 Stephen: Cam Sims is a gamer. He displays great body control, despite his size at 6-foot-5, 209 pounds. Sims has speed and exceptional hands. He has an opportunity to be Alabama’s vertical, deep ball target. Blocking is one Sims’s best traits. He did a nice job in 2014, springing Alabama’s backs and receivers down the sidelines with key blocks.
Q5 Maxwell: We spoke with Alabama’s defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, and he talked a lot about the improvements in Da’Shawn Hands game. Do you predict a big year from Hand?
A5 Stephen: Da’Shawn Hand will have a productive season, despite Alabama’s depth on the defensive line. Like Allen, coach Saban spoke on Hand’s improvement as a pass rusher. He’s gotten stronger physically, but needs to continue to process everything mentally.
Q6 Maxwell: The biggest takeaway from coach Saban’s press conference was that spring practice is all about personal improvement. Which player on either side of the ball needs to improve the most in spring, in order to contribute to the team?
A6 Stephen: Offensively, I have Robert Foster. He’s in the thick of the competition, but consistency where his hands are concerned is holding him back. Foster has to look the ball into his hands and catch passes cleanly. Defensively, it’s Eddie Jackson. He was huge as a freshman in 2013, but was torched a lot last season. Opposing quarterback reaped much success throwing to his side of the field. Jackson has to clean up his technique, as well as continue to play physical.
- Left tackle Cam Robinson was absent today, due to a sprained ankle.
- Defensive lineman Jonathan Allen praised Reuben Foster and Shaun Dion Hamilton during the press conference.
- Derrick Henry providing positive feedback on Kenyan Drake’s return. “I’m really happy for him. He’s working hard.”
- Chris Black and Robert Foster led receivers in drills.
- Reggie Ragland and Reuben Foster led inside linebackers in drills.