At the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover Friday, Saban, once again, yielded to yet another predictable and resigned approach aimed solely toward the media-packed ballroom.
“How is everybody? I hope y’all had a fantastic summer. It’s great to be here,” Saban sarcastically began moments after taking center stage. “I think y’all know that this is one of my favorite days of the year. This is actually my 10th SEC Media Day, which I guess Steve Spurrier and I would like to get some kind of an award or recognition if y’all could come up with something.”
Questions were immediately directed to the A.J. McCarron—Phillip Sims quarterback battle, which marks the most interesting topic of many Crimson Tide fans up to this point.
When asked where the quarterback race stands, Saban replied, “It doesn’t stand anywhere.”
After further questions were directed toward the quarterback battle, Alabama’s fifth-year head coach offered a generic response.
“We have two guys that are competing for the quarterback position,” he said. “We’re gonna continue to manage those guys through fall camp. Neither guy has a tremendous amount of experience.”
Alabama’s next biggest offensive question entering this season? The void left by former left tackle James Carpenter.
Junior Barrett Jones, a six-foot-five, 311-pounder who’s stared 25 games at right guard, is considered by many to be the top candidate for replacing Carpenter.
“We’ll work him at both positions until we can determine who the best fit player is for the offensive line,” Saban said of Jones, who appears to be lined up at left tackle on the cover of a select number of 2011 media guides.
Then came questions about Saban’s, and Alabama’s, specialty — defense.
Atop the list of units needing addressed sits what may be the Crimson Tide’s biggest concern of all, defensive line.
“Well, I think that we have a little different type team this year defensively,” Saban pointed out. “I think in the last few years we have had, always had, dominant down guys that had pass-rush ability, Marcell Dareus being the most recent. You know, several other guys in the past that are playing in the NFL now, as well. I’m not sure we have those kind of dominating down guys right now. We’re trying to develop some of those guys as younger players.”
Graduation, the NFL draft, injuries and off-the-field issues have taken their toll recently for Alabama, which was picked to finish on top of the SEC this year.
Dareus left early for the NFL Draft last year. Damion Square has yet to return to form after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Kerry Murphy, Kendall Kelly and Wes Neighbors all missed spring practice and are expected to end up on medical scholarships.
Chris Bonds has been considered a bust and Jesse Williams, a highly-touted recruit who was able to enroll early and participate in spring practice, was far from making the necessary impact Tide fans had hoped for during the spring.
Also missing from the Crimson Tide’s roster along the defensive front are Darrington Sentimore and Brandon Moore, who were both suspended.
Before leaving the podium, Saban reverted and took one last not-so-subtle jab at the media in attendance.
“I express my thanks and appreciation to all of you who certainly do a wonderful job of covering college football and providing a lot of positive self-gratification and interest to our football players and our program,” Saban said. “So thank you very much.”