TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — They call them the dog days of fall camp. Not only are they the hottest days that the team will likely practice in during the season, but also when the coaching staff really tries to push the players to their limits.
At Alabama they culminate with the second scrimmage, which will be held behind closed gates at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
It’s an important day for the 2018 Crimson Tide.
“It's a part of the preparation, it's a part of the process, but for a lot of younger guys its a big step to what do I have to do to be able to and understand what it takes to be able to play at a consistent basis,” Nick Saban said. “I think that's the most important thing we get out of this.
“We're evaluating lots of different positions, and in some cases it's for backup players and in some cases it's for who should start.”
Three position areas that the coaches will be paying extremely close attention are quarterback, the right side of the offensive line and the secondary. With each, roles still have yet to be determined and/or finalized.
In general the second scrimmage is often considered the most important because it comes at the end of the toughest stretch of fall camp. Not only is it considered the final major tune-up to the regular season, but the final chance for some players to prove to the coaches that they’re ready to contribute this season.
A lot of those determinations will be made on Sunday and Monday. When the team subsequently adds the scout team and starts to install the game plan for the season opener against Louisville in Orlando on Sept. 1, coaches will have not only a firm depth chart in place but the attention will shift toward the players who will be on the field most.
It’s also the final scrimmage for the coaches as well.
“We've done a lot of situational stuff this week to end practice just about every day, to try to expose the players to a lot of things that could happen during the season,” Saban said. “Whether it's get the ball back two-minute, whatever the situation might be. This scrimmage this week, I think the biggest difference is try to make it a little more game-like for a significant amount of time with substitution, special teams, try to get the flow of the game so the players get that.”
Saban noted that the coaching staff used the press box area, where half of the assistants will be during games, and communicated over the headsets during last week’s first scrimmage.
He noted that there weren’t any issues, but they’ll do the same again this week.
Alabama has six new coaches this season, in addition to new coordinators across the board. The only staff member in the same exact role as a year ago is offensive line coach Brent Key.
“Sometimes it gets tough, but we’ve got to stay on the same page and we got to be patient with the coach giving us the call,” junior linebacker Mack Wilson said. “Sometimes it’s not his fault. Sometimes it’s not our fault. We’ve just got to make sure we’re on the same page. Whatever call he makes, just play.”