University of Alabama

Alabama football notes: Crimson Tide's playbook installation reaches advanced level

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Things are starting to get tricky for the new guys at Alabama football practice.

Moving past the first scrimmage and preparing for another Saturday, the playbook installation reaches an advanced level.

That can leave young players confused, coach Nick Saban said. He calls it “paralysis by analysis” when over-thinking gets in the way of play-making.

“We throw all the you-know-what on the wall and see what sticks,” Saban said. “And then whatever doesn’t stick, we put it in the bucket and throw it on the wall again. You capiche? You understand what I’m trying to say?

“Aight, so, some of those guys have a lot of you-know-what in their bucket still that’s getting thrown up against the wall.”

Each practice this week will involve some element of an opponent the Tide faces this year. One period every day is dedicated to game planning for that specific opponent.

“So if they even a little bit understand what they were doing before, now they’re getting confused because we’re making them adapt and adjust to what Mississippi State’s offense or whatever,” Saban said.

It’s particularly difficult for the offensive line and secondary, Saban said, because they have to make the most calls.

Positions solidifying: The season opener with Kent State is still a few weeks out, but a few players are settling into positions.

Saban said redshirt freshman Blake Sims is working more with the running backs after taking turns with quarterbacks. That, in turn, frees up more reps for true freshman Phillip Ely as the third string passer.

“(Ely) is actually doing a little bit better,” Saban said. “He’s starting to play a little faster and looks a little better out there.”

Christion Jones, another true freshman, is playing mostly with the receivers now after spending time with the running backs.

For Barrett Jones, his role continues in multiples.

“We feel like he can play center, guard or tackle,” Saban said. “For us to get our best players on the field, sometimes you need a guy that can play multiple positions like that. We feel good about the progress that he’s made and he’s really made significant improvement at tackle.”

Richardson the cover boy: For the second time in a year, Alabama running back Trent Richardson will grace the cover of Sports Illustrated.

The college football edition set to hit newsstands later this week also ranks the Tide No. 1 for the second straight year.

In the cover photo, Richardson stands between South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and Nebraska defensive tackle Jared Crick. The headline reads “No. 1 Alabama ready to roll.”

Richardson graced the cover after the 2010 opener with San Jose State next to the headline “Opening statements.”

Related stories from Columbus Ledger-Enquirer