TUSCALOOSA — Halfway through spring practice, Dylan Moses is the last player Nick Saban is worried about.
“Dylan Moses has played a lot of football here,” Saban said Saturday afternoon following the first of three spring scrimmages. "We didn’t have any communication errors. We had some lack of execution and mental errors in terms of executing what the calls were, but not really a lot of communication errors.”
That last bit was a direct critique of some of the Crimson Tide’s other inside linebackers, which appear to be a touchy subject for the veteran head coach.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Saban said. “Those guys have a lot of ability but make too many mental errors. And when you make mental errors at linebacker, you either have gaps unprotected, you have somebody not covered, and we had too many of those today. We just have to keep on working with them and see where it takes us.
“I thought some of the outside backers played pretty well today, but with the inside ‘backers we have a lot of work to do.”
At least on defense, Moses appears to be Alabama’s safest bet this spring as he takes over the Mike linebacker role from NFL-bound Mack Wilson.
It’s the Will or weakside inside linebacker spot that appears at question, especially early this spring.
Rising redshirt senior Joshua McMillon has been spotted working beside Moses during individual drills so far this spring, with sophomores Markail Benton and Jaylen Moody ahead of freshman early enrollee Shane Lee and sophomore Ale Kaho, who missed the first couple of spring practices attending to a personal matter.
But, as it is every year at this point in the offseason, quality depth remains a major concern for Alabama as some of the younger players try to prove they’re ready to climb the depth chart.
Unfortunately, Saban doesn’t appear sold on the preparedness of his young talent just yet.
“I think we have some really good players," Saban said. "We have some guys that can play winning football. To me, we don't have enough. We don't have enough depth on our team. We don't have enough guys that execute with confidence, playing fast. So, the way we need to go about that is keep working these guys and keep practicing them.”
Tide kicking situation
Saturday’s scrimmage was one of the first times Alabama’s kicking situation was seen in action.
And, at least according to the head coach, the Crimson Tide are much further along in that department then a year ago at this time.
“The kicking game was good. I think we’re a lot further ahead in the kicking game this year,” Saban said.
Among those that made the most of the opportunity, it seems, was freshman early enrollee kicker Will Reichard, the nation’s top-rated kicker from Hoover. Reichard, who is working at both kicker and punter, apparently had a solid first day.
“We have a new freshman kicker, who kicked well today. He also punts, and he punted well today,” Saban said. “And then we have the other guys, who actually were better today than what they’ve been in the past, which is what our hope is that we can develop them and get them to improve.”
Among those “other guys” include redshirt sophomore kicker Joseph Bulovas, who made 14 of 18 on field goals last season, and sophomore punter Skyler DeLong, who averaged just 34.4 yards a kick with just two punts of 50 or more yards.
Ruggs misses scrimmage
Alabama junior receiver Henry Ruggs III didn’t participate is Saturday’s scrimmage inside Bryant-Denny Stadium because he was back in Montgomery attending funeral services for his late cousin, Warrick “JR” Ruggs.
The 28-year-old Warrick Ruggs was shot and killed March 18 near his home on Taylor Street in Montgomery. He was laid to rest Saturday afternoon, with services held at Union Academy Baptist Church.
Henry Ruggs’ younger brother Kevontae’ Ruggs, a sophomore linebacker at Ole Miss, returned to Montgomery on Friday to attend the services.
“Losing family, that’s big for just the family, but we’re just coming together and supporting each other,” Henry Ruggs told the Montgomery Advertiser on Friday. “That’s my brother, that’s family of course, so I just got off the phone with him and he’s headed here from Mississippi. We come together and do what we have to do for family.”
Terence Dewayne Chames, 42, was charged with murder Tuesday in connection to Warrick Ruggs' death, according to court records filed Thursday.
“You always want justice for an act like that, and you never want to hear something like that about anybody,” Henry Ruggs said Friday. “But with that being your family, of course you want justice for it.”
Davis, Lewis sit out
Alabama outside linebackers Ben Davis and Terrell Lewis remain limited while recovering from injuries, with Lewis’ being brought along slowly while recovering a serious knee injury suffered last July.
“I’m sure that you saw that Terrell Lewis is dressed out there, not doing much,” Saban said earlier this week. “We cleaned his knee up. Doc wanted to do something to it, and as a precautionary thing, he’ll be very, very limited all spring long. I think our goal is to get him ready for the summer and keep on pushing him so that he’ll be ready for the fall.”
Both Davis (shin splints) and Lewis (knee) were spotted riding stationary bikes in black, non-contact jersey’s before Saturday’s scrimmage, along with junior tight end Kedrick James, who has been somewhat limited this spring and will miss the first four games of next season serving the continuation of the suspension levied before last season’s College Football Playoff.