Of course the Tide will enter the upcoming season with significant questions at positions such as quarterback and running back, and the recent indefinite suspension of offensive lineman Alphonse “Shank” Taylor after a DUI arrest only muddies the Crimson Tide picture a bit more.
During Media Days in Hoover, Saban, entering his 10th season at the Capstone, addressed several topics related to his 2016 Alabama squad.
On continued development of his UA players, even during the off-season:
"We continue to try to develop our players in so many ways, even over the summer, where we have all of our players now for summer school in terms of personal development programs, whether it's mental conditioning for success, peer intervention for behavioral issues, leadership, communication, all of these things that create value in players that help them be more successful in life, and obviously academics is a big part of that."
On the progress his 2016 team has made as it heads into fall practice:
"So, our team has had a very good offseason. I've been very pleased with the progress that we made. We obviously lost some really, really good players from last year's championship team, good leadership, good people. Great team chemistry. All things that are intangibles that are difficult to build, and our challenge is to recognize as they develop, because those things just don't happen overnight. You know, it's a work in progress. And it's certainly been the case with our team this year.”
On the still-ongoing quarterback battle that includes returnees Cooper Bateman, Blake Barnett and David Cornwell and newcomer Jalen Hurts:
"For the third year in a row, I'm standing up here talking about somebody's going to be a new quarterback for us. Somebody's got to win that job. Somebody's got to win the team. You know, that has not necessarily happened yet and, you know, I'm not going to sit up here and sort of try to, you know -- I don't know the right word, but give you some statistics on who's winning the race and how the race is going and who's ahead, are they on the back stretch or in the final turn. That's something that's going to happen probably in fall camp. I hope in fall camp."
On the fact that Alabama's running game is largely unproven going into the 2016 season:
"This is the first time for many, many years that we have not had an experienced, talented running back who has proven his value. This will provide opportunity, even though (the current backs including Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris) are less experienced, for some other players who are talented players to have a chance to succeed at that position."
On whether O.J. Howard, the senior tight end from Prattville, will likely have an expanded role in the Alabama offense following his five-catch, 208-yard and two-touchdown performance against Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game:
"O.J. has been an outstanding player for us and a very unselfish guy in terms of, you know, the things he's done and how he has contributed to our team. He's contributed to our team in a fantastic way. It doesn't always get recognized because it seems like it's always recognized on how many big plays you make or how many passes you catch. So, we want to feature all of the players on our team that have a chance to be successful, and O.J. Howard should be a guy that should certainly create mismatches and do some good things stretching the field."