Alabama will open its 11th preseason football camp under Nick Saban this afternoon in Tuscaloosa.
The Crimson Tide’s inaugural August workout will be in shorts, and it will provide an opportunity for returning players and newcomers to get acclimated with one another. By the time Alabama holds its final August practice, the Crimson Tide will be hours away from facing Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game inside Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“I’m really looking forward to that game,” Crimson Tide junior receiver Calvin Ridley said last month at SEC media days. “I liked Florida State when I was coming out of high school, and I know a lot of guys down there. I’m just real excited to get a chance to get back out there and compete against one of the best teams in the nation.”
The Crimson Tide stockpiled the 2017 NFL draft with 10 selections, so there has been a little bit more reloading the past several months for a program with three consecutive conference championships as well as four national titles in the past eight seasons. Alabama has six starters back both offensively and defensively, with the offensive list including sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts.
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Hurts, the Southeastern Conference’s offensive player of the year last season, is the first starting quarterback to return for the Crimson Tide since AJ McCarron in 2013.
Alabama went 14-1 last season but had a turbulent finish, beginning with Saban parting ways with offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin after a sluggish 24-7 win over Washington in the Peach Bowl semifinal. Steve Sarkisian called the plays in the 35-31 loss to Clemson in January’s national championship game, but he left in February for the same role with the Atlanta Falcons and was replaced by New England Patriots tight ends coach Brian Daboll.
Saban has used the mantra this summer of “not wasting a failure,” and he will get quite the first crack with the Sept. 2 date against Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles. Florida State is coming off an Orange Bowl topping of Michigan and is expected to be ranked among the top three or four programs nationally.
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Fisher was the offensive coordinator at LSU during Saban’s five seasons as coach, and he also coached quarterbacks at Auburn in the 1990s.
“Florida State is built like an SEC team,” Saban said. “You think of Florida State, and you think of fast, explosive players, which they have a lot of. They are also a big, physical, team that plays great defense, and I think it’s probably the experience Jimbo had in this league that sort of explains why he built his team that way.
“That’s certainly the kind of team that they have this year.”
The Seminoles could represent the highest-ranked team Alabama ever has faced to open a season. The Crimson Tide opened their 1970 season against No. 3 Southern California at Birmingham’s Legion Field and suffered a 42-21 thumping.
Alabama’s past two opening opponents, Wisconsin in 2015 and Southern California last year, were ranked No. 20.
“Florida State is probably one of the best teams and has one of the best legacies in college football,” Alabama junior defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick said. “We don’t get to see them a lot, so when we play each other, it’s going to be a great game. I think it will be a lot of fun to play.”
Saban is scheduled to speak to the media after today’s inaugural workout and likely will address the arrest of Da’Shawn Hand. The senior defensive lineman was charged with DUI after being discovered last Saturday morning by university police in a vehicle with the keys in the ignition.
This article is written by David Paschall from Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.