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Nick Saban explains importance of scrimmages for young players at Alabama

Head coach Nick Saban
Photo comes via SEC Media Portal

After going two years without a College Football Playoff National Championship, Nick Saban and Alabama look to return to the top of the college football landscape.

The journey to a championship for the Crimson Tide starts in spring practice.

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Alabama held its first of two spring scrimmages before its annual A-Day game on Saturday, April 22. Two veteran linebackers — Deontae Lawson and Dallas Turner — are out this spring because of recovering from surgeries. Other players have been limited, which has allowed young guys to earn more reps. The Tide is 3-4 deep at every positional unit, especially on defense.

Alabama has to use more of its rotation in the fall. Coach Saban discussed the importance of scrimmages last week.

“The big thing is I am always on the coaches to let the players play,” Saban said. “There is a time in practice where you have to let them make the calls, let them do the things they need to do because you cannot do it for them in a game. The next step to this is the coaches are off the field. There is no one standing behind players making calls for them, nobody telling them what to do, and I think that is the next step in the progression of playing winning football. It is about having confidence in yourself and knowing the system well enough to where you can apply it to whatever multiple shows up. I think competing in scrimmages is an opportunity for guys to say ‘Hey, I can be accountable to do my job.’ Sometimes in practice when coaches are helping guys, they can actually depend on someone telling them what to do. We would like for them to know what to do because sometimes you can’t always communicate that.”

Several young players, including James Smith, Qua Russaw, Caleb Downs, Justice Haynes, and Jeremiah Alexander, stepped up in the first scrimmage. We will see how much progress they continue to make going forward.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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