Going into spring practice this year, Alabama will be breaking in two new coordinators and looking for a replacement for the greatest quarterback in the program’s history. Add in some key injuries, and this spring will offer opportunities for some new faces to impress the coaching staff.

After Alabama’s first spring practice on Monday, head coach Nick Saban spoke to the media and first addressed the injury report. Two of Alabama’s top returning linebackers, Deontae Lawson and Dallas Turner, will miss the entire spring, opening up the door for some younger guys to get added reps. Saban also mentioned that running back Roydell Williams and safety DeVonta Smith were recovering from injuries but could return to the field later in the spring. The Crimson Tide also have a couple of defensive linemen, Jah-Marien Latham and Justin Eboigbem, that will be limited in practice, as well as tight end Robbie Ouzts.

Following the injury update, Saban also got ahead of the Tony Mitchell situation, doing his best to say the right thing so he would not get as heavily criticized as basketball coach Nate Oats did with some of his comments about Brandon Miller being at the “wrong spot at the wrong time." Mitchell was arrested in Florida last week on possession of marijuana with intent to sell. Saban said Mitchell had been suspended.

“Tony Mitchell has been suspended from the team and all team activities until we gather more information about the situation and what his legal circumstance is,” Saban said. “Everybody’s got an opportunity to make choices and decisions. There’s no such thing as being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You’ve got to be responsible for who you’re with, who you’re around and what you do, who you associate yourself with and the situations that you put yourself in. It is what it is, but there is cause and effect when you make choices and decisions that put you in bad situations.”

With so many changes and so many new faces in the program this season, it would be easy to use those things as an excuse. Still, Nick Saban is no stranger to these adversities, as it has become almost guaranteed every year to have to replace at least one of his two coordinators, as well as replacing first round NFL talent. Saban doesn’t look at the new changes as an excuse but instead looks at every season as a fresh start.

“Well, I've said this before, but I look at every season like I just took the job,” Saban explained. “So I just took the job, what would we have? We'd have new coaches. We'd have new leadership. We'd have to create a new culture on this team. We'd have to create a new leadership on our team from players as well as coaches. I would have to make sure that the coaches really understood the culture and the system that we wanted to play with, whether it was offense, defense or special teams. It's great to have continuity, especially in leadership positions, but this is not something that we don't have some experience at making sort of adaptations, being flexible, letting people add things that they know will be beneficial to us. Contribute to how we can fix some of the problems that we've had in the past. New energy and new enthusiasm is always helpful.”

Just like every year under Saban, Alabama does not release a depth chart until the Monday before the first game of the season. Even then, it can be very vague regarding having two names listed as a starter for a given position. With the departure of quarterback Bryce Young, the quarterback position battle will be heavily watched the entire spring. As he does every year, Saban starts the spring with nobody guaranteed a starting position, and they must earn it. This year, Alabama has two talented quarterbacks, Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson, with very limited experience, so the quarterback battle should be wide open. Saban will likely be fielding questions about the quarterback race whenever he gets behind a microphone.

"Look, I think everybody has an opportunity,” Saban said. “None of the guys have a significant amount of experience. I think Jalen played one game, half a game where he really had to play a game and he made a lot of plays. He made plays in a different way than Bryce made plays. Ty, who made significant progress throughout the year but never really had much of an opportunity to play in critical situations in a game, is also someone that we think has developed and made a lot of improvement and has a lot of potential to be a pretty good player. Then we got two young freshmen that they probably have a long way to go but they're eager to learn and they're eager to try and improve and get a better understanding of what we need to do. Development at that position is really gonna be a critical thing for our team this year because I like the players that we have around them."

Alabama will return back to the field for its second spring practice Wednesday, March 22.

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