Saturday bench-emptying means more Tide players have room for improvement
Maybe the biggest thing Alabama got out of steamrolling an outmatched Georgia State squad last Saturday is that now the top-ranked Crimson Tide (5-0 overall, 2-0 in SEC) has even more players that realize they have room for improvement.
Such is the case when second- and third-string players get their first good dose of game action this season, like what happened in last Saturday’s 45-3 win.
So far this season, Alabama has played 13 true freshmen and nine redshirt freshmen. The true freshmen include tight end O.J. Howard, cornerback Eddie Jackson, defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson, long snapper Cole Mazza, defensive end Jonathan Allen, receiver Raheem Falkins, linebacker Reuben Foster, running back Derrick Henry, offensive lineman Grant Hill, defensive back Jai Miller, cornerback Maurice Smith, running back Altee Tenpenny and linebacker Tim Williams. The redshirt freshmen include linebacker Ryan Anderson, receiver Chris Black, tight end Kurt Freitag, offensive lineman Brandon Greene, kicker Adam Griffith, defensive lineman Korren Kirven, quarterback Alec Morris, offensive lineman Alphonse Taylor and defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson.
While last Saturday’s final score may have been lopsided Alabama players still made mistakes — very correctable mistakes. And, as everyone knows, Nick Saban is all about players getting better — both collectively and individually. Especially in light of the fact that there are no more Georgia States on Alabama’s remaining schedule.
“I think the focus moving forward knowing that the resistance is going to be greater and greater as we go through the season and go through our league is everybody’s got to focus on improvement, getting better, better execution as a team,” the Alabama head coach said Monday. “Lots of players got experience in this last game. They need to focus on what they need to do to improve and become complete players at their position, which is sometimes difficult for young players to really understand.”
A lot of young players go through a season more concerned about the minutes they get on the field on Saturdays rather than what they need to do to earn more minutes on the field on Saturdays. Now that more Alabama players got a taste of what it’s like to play on Saturdays, those players now, according to Saban, need to make sure they have the right mindset about returning to the field moving forward.
“Everybody in the world is looking for immediate self, positive gratification from whatever it is they do,” Saban explained. “It’s instant tea, instant coffee, instant everything. That’s just self gratification. There’s a process that everybody has to go through to build to be successful, especially when they’re a young player.
“I think getting a lot of these guys in the game where they get an opportunity to play and understand the importance of preparation and being ready to play is something they can really learn so that they can focus on continuing to make progress as a player. It’s not just about how much I play but it’s a lot about how good a player am I at my position, how well did I play.”
Special teams members in particular have reason to feel good about the way they’ve played up to this point in the season. They’ve certainly impressed Saban anyway.
“We’ve had probably more guys make more players on special teams than what we’ve had in the past,” Saban said. “… I think that has been a benefit to us and something we certainly need to continue to create an advantage for ourselves in special teams in the future.”
On the injury front, Saban mentioned only one guy Monday – Denzel Devall. The sophomore linebacker is expected to be limited in practice today but should be ready to go for Alabama’s game at Kentucky (1-4, 0-2) Saturday, according to Saban. Kickoff for the SEC tilt is set for 6 p.m. CDT. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
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