Alabama football coach Nick Saban lashes out at 'immature players'

Anniston StarMarch 19, 2014 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Spring practice is still young, but Alabama coach Nick Saban is already warning against any immaturity that could arise.

Since the Crimson Tide's Sugar Bowl loss in January, both Saban and former players have been outspoken about what ultimately doomed the team last season.

Selfishness, entitlement and a lack of discipline were mentioned when the Tide's 2013 struggles were publicly discussed.

So, in just his second press conference of spring practice, Saban warned that those things won't be tolerated going forward. And while he didn't name names, the message was still loud and clear.

"I think that immature people and immature players sort of think that life's going to give into their demands," Saban said. "Mature people know that I have to give into life's demands. If you really want to advance in this world, you've got to kind of do what you need to do to be successful, and most of the time that gets defined by somebody else.

"We need everybody to buy in and do a good job for what we need them to do so that we can be successful as a team."

But this team will be different, according to the players who've spoken with reporters. Senior linebacker Trey DePriest said he's al

ready seen a change in the team's mentality from a season ago.

"Guys are just a lot more hungry," DePriest said. "We didn't finish the season like we wanted to. Guys knew that and they just took a different approach to it, and are trying to get back to the standard of how we do stuff."

Junior linebacker Denzel Devall said the team is more together like "one big family."

"It's been very positive," Devall said. "We've got lots of guys going down the right path. We're just getting better. I like the way things are going, so we're going to keep it positive."

While each team has to create it's own identity, the 2014 team is working to develop veteran leadership while also filling multiple holes in the lineup.

Stars like linebacker C.J. Mosley and quarterback AJ McCarron aren't around to voice their opinions and guide the team through tough times. Junior center Ryan Kelly, who took over for Barrett Jones last season, said replacing key players is nothing new.

"It's not so much replacing stars, but everybody's got to know their role," Kelly said. "It's the Bama Way. We always say it that way, get back to what we do. No matter who is getting that spot, there's still a standard to uphold.

"It's pressure-filled, you can call it what you want, but if you're in there, you know you've got to produce for the 10 guys around you, whoever that may be."

The Tide took to the practice pull in full pads for the first time on Wednesday. While there's an adjustment period for the younger players, the veterans were anxious for more contact.

"It's awesome. The tease we had with the first two practices in just helmets was a little overwhelming," senior tight end Brian Vogler said. "I think being in pads set us back to what it feels like to be in the season. Just fly around and have that energy going throughout the practice."

Added Kelly: "It's been a while since we've had pads on so a little extra weight. It's real important that we came out and played physical. Obviously, the first two days were just in helmets. It's kind of hard to fit your hands and stuff like that. The first two days were more technique days, but this day you're trying to really get after the defense. I think we did a pretty good job."

Three practices down with 12 more to go. Following practice on Friday, the Tide will take the week off for spring break. A fifth of the way through spring, Saban has been happy with the team's overall attitude.

"The attitude toward that has been very good," Saban said. "I'm pleased, but obviously we've got a long way to go. We have a lot of positions with a lot of players to get more players who can play winning football.

"Some of the guys that have confidence, play fast, look very impressive, make a lot of plays. But we obviously have a long way to go in terms of getting more players that can play that way."

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