TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — We’re one workout into spring practice for Alabama football and there already have been some interesting position experiments.
Because of injuries and low numbers at certain positions, Alabama is getting creative to make it through spring practice.
Here are two key positions where Alabama is getting creative to account for injuries and low numbers.
Alabama basically lost its entire secondary from last season so numbers are low. The Crimson Tide signed five defensive backs in its 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 period of practice on Tuesday.
What Alabama coach Nick Saban had to say:
“[Smith] could play corner, but that’s not our plan for him. We don’t have enough guys in the secondary right now. We recruited some good players. Hopefully, they’ll come on in the fall. They aren’t here in the spring; Saivion [Smith] is the only guy who is here.
“We’ve done a lot of this kind of stuff. We taught [former Alabama wide receiver] Christion Jones to play defensive back. So, what we do, in individual, when you are there … so I should probably change this and let him go with the receivers while you are there and I’ll work with him when you’re not there and then I wouldn’t have to answer these kind of questions. But just to be totally transparent like I always am about everything that we do, he works individual with the corners. Then, he plays receiver the rest of the practice.
“Now, I’m sure your next question is how many reps does he get, and who is he splitting time with and who is he competing with, and what team is he on, and where’s he at on the depth chart, none of which we have an answer for. So, I’ll just take the questions right out of your mouth.”
The Smith move is worth noting because we’ve seen the Crimson Tide move receivers to defensive back, and they’ve stuck there. Cyrus Jones and Trevon Diggs are two names that come to mind.
Prior to Alabama taking the field for spring practice, right tackle Matt Womack injured his foot.
Womack started all 14 games last season, including the two playoff matchups. Alabama must also 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.
What Saban had to say:
“We think [Jedrick] and Alex both are really good players. I mean, Alex played great in the National Championship Game when he had to go in there for Jonah [Williams]. This probably won’t be the first experiment we have in the offensive line in terms of who plays where. We feel Alex and Jonah both can play left tackle, but I think Alex can play someplace else, and I think Jonah can play someplace else. I think Jedrick Wills may be able to play somewhere else.
“So, the goal is always to get the best five players on the field and we may experiment with somebody else playing center at some point in time as well. I just really like both of those young players [Leatherwood and Wills]. I think you hate it when a player’s not out there competing and playing like Matt won’t be able to do this spring.
“You hate to see guys get injured, but he’ll be back in the fall and I think this will just give these young guys more reps and a better chance to sort of make progress themselves and acquire more knowledge and experience that’s only going to help them get better.”
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