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April 1, 2013

Notebook: Saban displeased with practice

TUSCALOOSA | For University of Alabama students, spring break ended Sunday.

But from the comments of UA coach Nick Saban Monday, it seemed the break lasted into Monday for the Crimson Tide football team.

"It was what you'd expect for a day back after eight or nine days off. ... We probably took a step back having this break. We need to get people back on track and doing the right thing, and playing to a higher standard, paying a little better attention to detail," Saban said.

Alabama held four of 15 spring practices before spring break. It's fifth came Monday after a lengthy layoff that players admitted was obvious.

"Today we struggled at offensive line. I rode them pretty hard. Probably, it's hard for those big guys to take a week off and then come back and be as fresh as they were before," said quarterback AJ McCarron. "Like I said, as an offense as a whole, we were kind of sluggish. Everybody was just moving kind of slow."

"I also think that the leadership on the team has got to demand a little bit more in terms of players doing the right thing," Saban added, "and we've got to have a little more commitment from the mental toughness standpoint to be able to persevere through things when they get difficult."

Practices prior to spring break were mostly colder and rainy. And although the heat on Monday was nothing like it will be when fall camp commences in August, right guard Anthony Steen said the difference was stark.

"I think it was more of we hadn't really had any kind of hot weather yet. When I went home for my spring break, it was cold," Steen said. "The coldest day was 25 degrees. Today, it felt hot, and we just weren't used to it. I definitely feel it right now."

Saban said practicing in full pads immediately after spring break wasn't ideal, but the spring practice calendar demanded full-pad work Monday in order for the team to be prepared for its first scrimmage this weekend.

Remembering Mal
Saban called former UA Director of Athletics Mal Moore, who died Saturday, one of the finest people he has been associated with in college athletics.

"It was really tough for me on Saturday when we got the news. Mal was such a close friend, someone that I respected personally as well as professionally, in terms of the way he treated and thought about other people," Saban said. "Probably the most caring person about always putting other people first that I've ever been around, especially in the position of leadership that he had. ... I never even saw him ever in the years that I've known him treat anybody with disrespect."

Said McCarron: "I was very close with coach Moore. I would stop up there once or twice every two weeks and visit with him, just because he was such a legend here. I always liked being around his presence. It's kind of like being around coach Saban. You can learn so much just by carrying on a normal conversation with him."

"A lady last year kept calling me Steen Roller. I'd see it every day, before we eat on Fridays before a game. She's holding a sign up saying 'Steen Roller.' Me and the guys are just laughing, cracking up. I guess that will stick now." - Steen on whether he's acquired a nickname.

Linebacker C.J. Mosley, who has been practicing under non-contact status while recovering from minor shoulder surgery, said he will not be ready for full contact in time for Saturday's scrimmage. ... Xzavier Dickson practiced with outside linebackers during individual drills Monday. Dickson has been splitting time between outside linebackers and defensive ends in the spring. ... Along with Mosley, Dee Hart, Jalston Fowler and DeAndrew White continue to be withheld from full contact for injury reasons. Reserve defender Anthony Orr, who worked at outside linebacker last year, is practicing with defensive ends this spring. ... Alabama resumes practice Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. (closed to public).

Reach Chase Goodbread at chase@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0196.

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