First off, I just want to say that us coaches were very well taken care of. 857 coaches attended according to Alles' update today. We ate.... a lot! We had a Beer and Brat social, doughnuts ever morning, a Full Moon BBQ buffet, a crawfish dinner, finger foods, and Rama Jama hamburgers over the course of 3 nights/2 days. We consumed 2600 lbs of crawfish.
Next, I can not fully explain how excited I am after getting to know the staff a little. You've heard the comments about just something "in the air," and it is true. This staff is committed and it shows in everything that they do. You can tell why they are considered good recruiters.
Practices are much higher tempo than under the last staff. I probably saw 20 CMS practices and none came close to this intensity and speed. Everyone, and I mean from first year walk-ons up, gets reps. Even the other coaches said that it was a bit confusing at first because everything is timed and you have to know what field to hit next. Players are responding well, and I think they know that this is what Alabama football should be. I don't think a drill or play is ran one time without someone getting chewed/corrected.
Rather than break this down by day and have several things repeated, I'll try to break this down by coach/position.
Coach Saban- First, for those who still wonder whether or not he's happy here, don't worry. He made the comment, "I love it here, Terri loves it here, and there's some people in Louisiana pi##ed about it, but that's just part of it." His speech was similar to what he gave when he was introduced as head coach. He joked about the media coverage and how they always portrayed him in a bad light. Terri told him that it was his own fault and needed to loosen up, tell a joke, smile, and not be afraid to say the wrong thing.
Didn't mention a lot of specifics about the team. He said that the team had made strides in conditioning, but needed to work on intensity for the entire practice.
Coach Stallings- I'll start off by telling you that he got two standing ovations. Hearing Coach Saban and Coach Stallings speak back-to-back was amazing. He spoke on a lot of different things that I simply can't put down, but here's a story I think several of y'all will get a kick out of. When he was working for Tom Landry, he was going to bring John Mark to practice to meet him for the first time. They practiced the routine 100 times: "Coach Landry I'd like you to meet my son, John Mark....John Mark, I'd like you to meet Coach Landry." And John Mark was to say, "It's nice to meet you, Coach Landry." Well, the day finally comes and Coach Stallings does his part, and when John Mark shakes his hand, he says "Hi, Tom." Priceless.
Cornelius Bennett- He was ready to go put the pads on, and so were most of us listening to him. It was nice to get the players perspective, while listening to lots of coaching aspects. To this day, he does not know how Coach Perkins knew that he'd be a great LB b/c he never played it. He wanted to be a TE or RB in that order, b/c he played RB in HS and admired some of the pass catching TEs of the NFL. Very motivational.
***note, I'm not going to describe a lot of scheme work since cell phones were not allowed on the practice field. Didn't want any lurkers from that "school down the road."
QBs/Coach Applewhite- CMA was surprisingly intense. He was getting PO'd watching the tapes he was showing us b/c JPW has been off with this steps. All of the QBs have problems with mechanics right now, and he is working hard on them. Installing a lot of new stuff right now, so that's probably why the offense hasn't looked that crisp yet. Very, very glad he is here and I think he'll be here a long time.
Observations: A little rough, but they are learning/installing right now. McElroy has bulked up.
RBs/Coach Burns- I was able to listen to CBB do his clinic talk, as well as talk some candidly to him. The RBs are in good hands with this guy. He spoke on his teaching and how a lot of being a RB is just natural ability. He said none of them have put themselves ahead of the other yet. He also said he doesn't have a preference to size as long as they get the job done.
Observations: Right now, I believe Johns is the #1. I think he's a little faster than last year as well. Behind him, it's tough to call. All look good in spurts. Nearly all missed some kind of assignment at some point. I could single out them all for doing something great as well. Jamar Taylor surprised me for just being out of HS for a few months. He's quick. Sharrief hurt his shoulder late in practice. I'm not sure to what extent, but he was holding his arm to his side a lot. He continued to practice and get carries. He's a warrior.
I don't know how extensively the FB will be used, but Huber will be the man there.
WRs- didn't hear Coach Cig speak, but watched the WRs a good bit. Not a lot of loafing from this group, compared to some times over the past few years. Hall, Brown, and Lowe stand out. Yes, I said Lowe. He just might be a playmaker for us. Caddell is high energy. Stover can make plays. Alexander is coming along. Oakley is still working with the trainers and Jake Jones had some type of injury on Saturday. Sikes is working with the WR, now.
TEs- didn't watch them a lot, but I expect more balls to be thrown their way this year. We have some talent at that position. Dial looks to be in great shape.
OL- gues y'all are waiting for this one, eh? Coach Pendry is just a country boy from WV. He wouldn't even fool with the VCR/LCD projector. He specifically said, "no more bucket step." I figured he threw that in there for all those who have mentioned it to him. So far, all he has had time to put in was a zone scheme. It's an aggressive one, the boys will be moving and physical. It was entertaining to listen to him speak candidly while at one of our socials.
Observations: In drills, here is the current line by line breakdown.
1st (from L to R)- Smith, Britt, Caldwell, M. Davis, Stabler
2nd- C. Davis, Ross, Cardwell, Johnson, D. Davis
3rd- Capps (no contact), LG?, Deaton, Stadler, Pharr
Britt and Ross also did a few snaps at center in a drill.
They are in better shape. Once schemes are learned, they'll look better. Pendry also said if somethings not working, we'll adapt to our strengths.
DL- Didn't get the chance to hear Coach Bo Davis, but he's a very high energy, in-your-face guy. Listened to Coach Pete Jenkins from the Eagles who coached Bo at LSU. He spoke on using the hands on D and a lot about the DL. Because Coach Davis is one of his students, I feel great about the potential of our D-line. I think we'll get a lot of batted balls from our DL.
Observations: Motley looks pretty good at the nose. I wish he would've spent last year there while redshirting. Washington is still no-contact. Walton is our biggest guy, but not our best at the nose. I honestly didn't notice Deaderick. Gilberry and Greenwood will give us a good starting set of ends. After them, I really didn't notice any one else.
LBs/Coach Steele/Coach Thompson- Coach Steele spoke a lot about our defense. It's simple, yet very complex. In 45 minutes, he only had time to go over 2 1/2 base formations. It was very enlightening. He claims it is very hard to learn at first for the players, but after it is learned you can do TONS with it.
Coach Thompson went over a lot of LB responsibilities. He said we need some bigger guys at LB, instead of smaller, faster guys. The jack position could be a playmaker. It's the hybrid end/OLB we've been mentioning. Has to be good enough to drop in coverage and blitz.
Coach Thompson spoke a lot about Coach Saban. He said that CNS is "jacked" about being here. He said that he and CNS were talking back in 2001, and the Bama job came up as a topic. CLT said it was the best job in America, to which Coach Saban's response was "IIIII don't know about that." CLT reiterated it is and that if they had someone like you (to CNS) they would be dominate. Also in the conversation was a big name to another SEC school, who replied "He's right, it is the best job in America." And now, he's here.
He also spoke on CNS first tour of BDS and how he was looking around intentively. CNS is big on the "psychology of performance, etc" so he's analyzing things a lot. He looked at the north expansion and backed to the south, and asked the "head stadium guy" (CLT didn't know who) how long would it take to get that end the same. The guy chuckled, "probably when we win another SEC title." CNS' response? "Tell the architect to get started." Now, CLT was telling that, so I'd like to think it's true, but man that fired me up.
Observations: Knight looked good at LB, specifically the Jack. He just looked happy out there. Saunders is learning some of that spot as well. Schreiber should be able to make plays, along with Hall and Mustin. Higg and Anders are coming along as well. Still need more quality depth.
Secondary/Coach Smart/Coach Dantonio from Mich. St.
Coach Smart- as coach Steele introduced him, I think he is "one of the best young coaches in America." I really liked how he was teaching the DBs, of course with a lot CNS' influence. We will be a more physical secondary. I expect a lot of interceptions/broken up passes, especially with our total defensive scheme.
Coach Dantonio from Mich St.- you can tell he takes after CNS a lot. Very intense. I expect him to help Mich. St out a lot. He spoke on quarters coverage.
Observations- Slim has probably got one of the CB spots nailed down. Opposite of him is probably up for grabs, but I like Marquis Johnson there. Arenas worked almost exclusively in the nickel. Gray got some good reps, but he pulled up in conditioning with a hammy. Not sure how bad. Lionel Mitchell was pick or big gain. We actually need more depth at CB, IMO. Didn't notice Coger.
Lining up side-by-side at safety a few times was Woodall and Reamer. Both looked good. Johnson, Carter, and Rogers are in the mix. Rogers was working on his moves after practice. Expect some blitzes from the safeties.
Special Teams/Coach Middleton- despite going to that school down-the-road, I think we are in good hands here. He STRONGLY knows how important STs are. He has changed some teaching to what CNS wants, and has bought into those ideas after not agreeing at first.
Observations: the return game looks promising. Arenas, Caddell, Lowe, Grant, Taylor, Jackson, Castille, Hall all got looks at KR and PR. No drops. Coverage still needs some work, but they weren't tackling, yet.
Punting wasn't consistent. I honestly couldn't tell you who looked better. If I had to put two in front, it would Fitzgerald and Hill.
No kicking attempts while I was there, except for a few kick-offs of which most were inside the 5, but not touchbacks.
Strength and Conditioning/Scott Cochran- Cochran is crazy...and the other coaches tell him that. If you hear the loudest mouth at practice, it's him. He's like the Sgt. from Mail Call. He was detailed about our S&C. No doubt, we will be stronger. He gave us their summer workout program. If the players don't do it on their own after spring ball, they'll be hurting come June 5.
Any questions, just ask and I'll try my best. May add more if I remember something else.