Friday, March 28, 2008

University of Alabama Football Report for 3/27/08: Spring Practice Explication

About suffering they were never wrong, the old football coaches.

After two initial practices and a week off for spring break, the University of Alabama football team resumed practice this week. Offensive madman Hal Mumme stopped by for a visit, perhaps to see about this “defense” thing that Woody Widenhoffer was always yammering about, as it’s unlikely Wilson will be running Mumme’s air raid.

Also of note, early reports confirm a quickened pace and an increased display of aggression throughout the roster. The Tide’s new offensive coordinator has been praised by the Great Leader for his “toughness.” Players, especially along the line, seem eager to show they’re up to the task.

No doubt some of this bruising is due to familiarity; this is, after all, the first season after the first season, the first season after the horrible four-game collapse--that important failure--that called into question the team’s desire to win, the first season where the demands of practice are not accepted on faith, but on experience.

Reports from the locker room cite that last season’s news clippings from the Lousiana-Monroe defeat (among others) haven’t been removed in this year’s spring cleaning.

A football team cannot afford to turn leisurely from disaster.

Certainly some players’ urgency stems from a more personal stake in the success. As stated before, the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class doesn’t join a 7-6 squad to sit on the bench. As aged fans wait for the new prospects’ miraculous birth in the fall, you can easily find an Icarus on the field this spring who does not specially want it to happen.

Such, however, is reality. Already some players have changed position in hopes of keeping their roster spot, most discussed among them former QB, then former running back, then former fullback, now linebacker Jimmy Johns. Many observers--including his own teammates--are encouraged by his love to hit, but whether he can hit the right thing remains to be seen.

And with an over-signed incoming class and an under-sized graduating one, for some players, this spring will determine who remains on the roster at all. A few players have decided to forego football in favor of retaining their ability to walk without assistance beyond the age of thirty, but a few will simply be subject to that dreadful martyrdom that must run its course over the summer.

But before summer, spring, and before the season, the scrimmage.

Tens of thousands will fill the expensive delicate ship of Bryant-Denny Stadium in a few weeks to see what manner of team they can expect this fall, knowing full well that it will look nothing like the team they see now, but also hoping that it will be the start--if only the smallest start--of something amazing.

Roll Tide.