TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — We’re now three practices into spring drills for Alabama football, and there have been a lot of key takeaways to note.
The Crimson Tide are set to practice 12 more times before concluding spring with their A-Day spring game on April 21.
Here’s a look at what we learned from Week 1.
Tua Tagovailoa’s hand has been biggest story
It’s been an interesting spring on the injury front already for Alabama football. The biggest injury came on Day 1 when Alabama coach Nick Saban announced that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa injured his left hand on Tuesday.
Tagovailoa returned to the field on Thursday in a limited capacity. He did a similar amount of work on Saturday during the media viewing period.
Tagovailoa is sporting a wrap and a glove to protect his left hand. The fact that he’s on the field at all is a positive sign. After practice on Saturday, Alabama doesn’t return to the field until Tuesday. That gives Tagovailoa two days to rest, and see how his hand responds to the work he’s doing.
Low numbers, injuries lead to experiments
Because of injuries and low numbers at certain positions, Alabama is getting creative to make it through spring practice.
Alabama basically lost its entire secondary from last season, so numbers are low. The Crimson Tide signed five defensive backs in their 2018 class, but only one is on campus as a midyear enrollee — junior college transfer Saivion Smith.
With the numbers being low, Alabama is using National Championship Game hero DeVonta Smith on both sides of the ball. Smith worked with the defensive backs during the media viewing periods of practice this week.
Prior to Alabama taking the field for spring practice, right tackle Matt Womack sustained a foot injury.
Womack started in all 14 games last season. Alabama also must replace two-year starter Bradley Bozeman at center.
Ross Pierschbacher got a look at center on Tuesday. Jedrick Wills lined up at right tackle on Tuesday. Alex Leatherwood is another player to watch.
At this point, Alabama is experimenting all over the offensive line.
New coaches are fitting in nicely
It’s crazy to think that no coach from Alabama’s 2015 national championship team is in the same role now. That was only three seasons ago, and the Crimson Tide have a completely different staff.
Furthermore, offensive line coach Brent Key is the lone member of the staff filling the same role as a season ago. Tosh Lupoi and Mike Locksley are still around, but both have been bumped up to coordinator spots (Lupoi still works with outside linebackers).
Alabama has six new assistant coaches this season, one thanks to the NCAA allowing teams to have a 10th assistant coach, and all three coordinator spots are being manned by someone different from a year ago.
However, if you’re expecting a drop-off, don’t hold your breath. Nick Saban is confident in this new bunch.
“I think they’re all working hard, and they’ve got a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of new ideas,” Saban said. “I’m excited about them and I like every one of them, and to be honest with you we’re very, very fortunate and hit a home run with the guys we were able to hire.”
Damien Harris ready to lead
Alabama fans should feel comfortable knowing the team has veteran leaders such as Damien Harris around. Harris returned to Tuscaloosa for his senior season when he could have bolted for the NFL.
He’ll be one of the featured players on offense, as well as one of the faces of the program this season.
Harris has a chance to become the first Alabama player to rush for 1,000 yards in three straight seasons. He’s rushed for 2,197 yards and 14 touchdowns during his three seasons in Tuscaloosa. Harris is 1,394 yards off Derrick Henry’s career rushing record.
“One thing I need to improve on as far as being a leader for this team is how I affect other people,” Harris said. “I’ve been a lead-by-example kind of guy, not super vocal. There comes a point in time where you have to do what’s best for the team, and do what you can do to impact the guys on this team in a positive way. Whether that’s me becoming more vocal or continuing to lead by example, I’m ready to do it to enhance my leadership role on this team.”
Alabama’s players are really strong
One of the best things about Alabama strength coach Scott Cochran being on Twitter has been the random videos he posts from the weight room.
First up, we got a glimpse of Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts squatting nearly 600 pounds (looks like 585) on Thursday. That’s an impressive number for anyone, let alone a quarterback. That’s nearly three times his own weight. Hurts was a powerlifter in high school.
— Scott Cochran (@CoachYeah) March 23, 2018
On Friday, Cochran dropped a short clip of Alabama safety Xavier McKinney tossing around 305 pounds as if it were nothing. McKinney is competing to be one of Alabama’s starting safeties.
Hopefully Cochran continues to release these behind the scenes nuggets throughout the year and into the season.
Xavier McKinney 305lbs too easy. pic.twitter.com/ThITq5npBK
— Scott Cochran (@CoachYeah) March 23, 2018
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