Alabama Football: Practice Notebook, Oct. 24


Sep 1, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide offensive linesman Barrett Jones (75) blocks during the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Cowboys Stadium. Alabama won 41-14. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

It takes a lot to get Alabama head coach Nick Saban off of football. A lot. Even when he is asked questions about non-football matters, he works a world-class spin job to twist things back to football.

When Saban takes a break from football, it is clear something serious is afoot.

That was exactly the case when Saban interrupted his opening statement in Wednesday’s press conference to congratulate his center, Barrett Jones, for being named a finalist for the Campbell Award, given to the top scholar-athlete in college football.

“It’s a tremendous honor from the National Football Foundation,” Saban said, noting the last Alabama player to be nominated for the award was quarterback Greg McElroy. “One of the greatest honors you can receive, certainly something we’re pleased and happy that Barrett is getting recognized for all the positive things that he does personally, athletically and academically.”

Jones is looking forward to the experience of going to New York City and potentially receiving the highly-touted award.

“Well I’m excited,” Jones said. “It’s a huge honor. I’ve been reading up on it today and learning exactly what the Campbell Trophy stands for and what it’s all about it. You get to go to New York, first of all that’s cool. So it’s going to be a really neat deal. I’m excited.”

Snap-py transition

The praise being heaped on Jones was not done yet, as Saban had more to say about Jones making the move to center to fill a large void for the Crimson Tide as it tries to replace William Vlachos.

“I don’t think he’s every really struggled at all,” Saban said. “He’s such a bright guy. He’s got great resiliency and adaptability and very flexible in what he can do, and he has the confidence that he can do it.”

Jones, however, isn’t sure that Saban’s appraisal of the situation is 100 percent accurate.

“There have definitely been some bumps along the road, and a lot of challenges come up, but I try and handle it like I handle anything else, and address the challenges,” Jones said. “I’ve done a lot of work on technique and fundamentals, I’ve felt like I’ve progressed a lot but I feel I have a long way to go.”

Saban holds true to his thoughts on the move.

“He played the position some last year, so it wasn’t like totally new to him,” Saban said. “He sort of anticipated that this was going to happen so it wasn’t any sort of psychological surprise to him. I think the kind of person he is, he sets his mind to being the best he can be at whatever position he’s playing. And that’s the way he approached this. He’s worked hard to become a complete player at the position.”

The move is one that is a difficult one to make, or at least his teammates think so.

“I could maybe play center, but Barrett would have to be the guard and make all the calls for me,” Steen said.

“Another down to live”

AJ McCarron is now one of two quarterbacks in the country that has yet to throw an interception, the other being Louisiana Tech’s Colby Cameron.

Having been pegged as gunslinger out of high school, the efficiency and care with the football has been a tremendous improvement for McCarron and the offense as a whole.

“It’s something that Coach Saban always preaches, just take what the defense gives you,” McCarron said. “Coach Nussmeier has done a great job coaching me in that regard, teaching me where to throw the ball in certain situations. I think also you have to grow as a quarterback. Young quarterbacks are going to force the ball sometimes. You just gotta kind of know when to take your chances.”

McCarron has come to adopt a catch phrase, trying to always remember that there is another down to live.

“You got to know you have another down to live,” McCarron said. “Really, I think maybe just throwing the ball a little bit more, knowing when to throw it away and having another down to live for the next play.”