Nick Saban Says There is Still a Position Battle at Right Guard [VIDEO]
Quarterback is not the only position on offense that is still working on finding one definite starter.
Entering the third game of the season, sophomore Alphonse Taylor and senior Leon Brown are still competing for the starting job at right tackle. Brown started the season opener at West Virginia, but Taylor started last Saturday against Florida Atlantic. Both saw action with the first team in both games.
"Leon is getting better and better every week," Saban said. "I think he played a lot better in this game than he did the last game. Shank (Alphonse), we’re trying to improve his consistency. Those two guys are still competing at that position."
Both Taylor and Brown split reps with the first-team offensive line at practice Wednesday. Prior to Wednesday, Taylor had taken all the reps with the first team in every practice since West Virginia week. When a depth chart was released that week, Taylor was listed as the starting right guard ahead of Brown.
"Hopefully someone is going to give us the kind of performance at that position that we need to be able to play well in the offensive line with the rest of the group, and I think that’s improving," Saban said.
Filling Jarrick Williams' void
One of the Crimson Tide's most significant injuries happened in its first game, and it has been a bit of a challenge trying to replace him ever since.
Senior defensive back Jarrick Williams suffered a Jones fracture -- a fractured bone in his foot -- in the season opener against West Virginia, which Saban said the Monday after that game would take four weeks to heal. Williams usually plays the Star position in Alabama's nickel package.
"Jarrick is a really good player when he plays star because he is very physical," Saban said. "He’s hard to block. In this day and age with all the bubble and smoke passes and screens you see on the perimeter, he does a really good job of defeating blockers and setting the edge where the other guys can makes plays."
In his absence, junior Geno Smith has taken over at Star -- a position he played with the first team at times last season.
"Geno isn’t as physical as Jarrick, but he’s a very athletic cover guy and has played a lot of Star for us," Saban said. "So when we go to six DBs, Jarrick goes and plays the sixth DB, so we kind of miss him in that role as well. We had to shuffle guys around for that and we’re doing the same thing this week."
Wide receiver Chris Black has also noticed a difference in the playing styles between Williams and Smith.
"Those two are different," Black said. "Jarrick, once he gets his hands on you it’s kind of over with. Geno, he’s a guy that’s going to kind of mirror you, cover you, stay with you over the top."