TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Alabama starting offensive line, it turns out, is still a work in progress.
Just two days after saying he had a good idea who four of the five would be, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban reversed course after Saturday’s scrimmage.
“I don’t know what five guys are going to end up playing in the offensive line,” he said after the closed scrimmage held in Bryant-Denny Stadium. “I really don’t. I don’t. So you can speculate any way you want, but I don’t know. I’m telling you the God-awful truth. I don’t really know.”
That initial group of four presumably included returning starters Mike Johnson and Drew Davis along with junior college transfer James Carpenter and William Vlachos.
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Only one offensive lineman was identified by name in the post-scrimmage briefing.
“Barrett Jones played there today and he’s been doing the best job today, to this point, but we’ve got a lot of competition at a lot of positions,” Saban said of the redshirt freshman from Memphis.
Earlier in the week, Saban said he hoped to have a better idea which five would be the opening day starters to start building continuity.
All four quarterbacks participated in Saturday’s scrimmage and Saban offered a quick critique on the three backup quarterbacks.
“I thought Star Jackson did a decent job today, showed some command and leadership in what he was doing. Thomas Darrah did OK, AJ (McCarron) did OK,” Saban said. “But AJ’s a younger guy and he’s playing with younger players. So it’s probably a little more difficult for him to be able to execute because of the players he’s playing with and against in terms of developing timing.
Saban turned to a visual when teaching Saturday’s pre-scrimmage lesson to his players. He wrote “mistake” on one end of a sheet of paper and “lesson” on the other.
“When you make a mistake, there is a lesson,” Saban told reporters about his message to the team. “Now what do we do with this when we’re done and the play is over.”
The white sheet was ripped in half and the mistake was crumpled and tossed aside in the coach’s reenactment of the speech.
“This is the only thing that has any value — is the lesson. It’s what you learn and how you grow.”