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Jumbo Package: Saban concerned about execution, not scheme, in the first fall scrimmage

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Alabama Spring Game Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. As Alabama prepares for the first scrimmage of the fall, Caleb Downs continues to make waves.

Caleb Downs could be a stud

Alabama had openings at safety after last season with Brian Branch and Jordan Battle both gone to the NFL. The Crimson Tide has veterans who are competing to jump in, but they’re joined by a talented true freshman.

Caleb Downs joined the team as a five-star prospect out of Mill Creek in Georgia. By all accounts, he’s impressed so far.

Caleb was one of the rare prospects that truly seemed like a can’t miss. Everything about him, from physical ability to attitude, screamed “Minkah Fitzpatrick.” Very excited to see him in action this season.

Saban isn’t too worried about schemes at this point. It’s all about the execution.

“We want to evaluate whether guys can block, tackle, execute what they’re supposed to do; not so much try to game plan and experiment with things but just see how guys can play winning football, whatever position,” Saban said. “That’s something that I think is really, really important.”

You can tell when a player has been in the program for a while and spent a lot of time around Saban because he then starts using similar verbiage to the head coach.

If you have premium talent that executes at an elite level, playcalling scarcely matters at all. We’ll soon see if 2023 Alabama can fit that description.

Can’t go a day without talking about the quarterbacks.

“I think with Jalen Milroe, the biggest strength with him is going to be the mobility and his ability to run,” Bama247’s Mike Rodak told 247Sports at SEC Media Days. “He really wants to run. He’s showed that when he’s played. The Texas A&M game last year, there was eight or 10 carries in that game that he had. It’s a dual threat. It’s the biggest dual-threat quarterback Alabama would have, but it’s also turning back the clock a little bit to maybe more of what Jalen Hurts did in their offense. They’ve gone a different direction the last few years. It’s q question to if they want a pass-first offense or a quarterback who’s going to run eight or 10 times a game and throw for 150 yards.”

CBS has Alabama in what would be a fitting all-SEC vs Big Ten foursome.

A Michigan-Alabama Rose Bowl in the 2023 College Football Playoff would have no shortage of juicy storylines. Michigan trying to break through its semifinal glass ceiling, Alabama playing to regain some supremacy in the sport, the Wolverines first Rose Bowl since 2007 and the Crimson Tide’s first in California since 1946 are just scratching the surface of what would be at stake. (Alabama played in the 2020 Rose Bowl semifinal that was moved to Arlington, Texas, due to Covid.)

The last time these two teams met — the 2020 Citrus Bowl — was a fairly competitive game for a half until Alabama reeled off 21 unanswered in the second half to win, 35-16. With a national title berth on the line, a rematch could be a doozy.

DeMarcco is going to get a look tonight when the Falcons play.

In Atlanta’s training camp on Saturday, Hellams ended practice with an interception off backup quarterback Logan Woodside during a two-minute drill.

“DeMarcco is doing a nice job,” Smith said. “He was a fun player to evaluate. The guy came out of a big program there in D.C. in DeMatha, went down to Alabama, persevered, and you just saw him pop all over the tape. He was always around the football. You saw that today.

“I think he’s done a really good job as a communicator back there, so I’m excited. He’s a guy that I’m really excited to see in the preseason to see how that translates.”

Last, this is a nice piece on longtime trustee Jim Wilson.

“He often gave great leadership and insight into facilities development because of his own personal experience,” Byrne said. “Really, any project that’s taking place here, his fingerprints were all over.”

Over the years, Alabama has made upgrades to Bryant-Denny Stadium, Coleman Coliseum, the Mal Moore Athletic Complex and more. Overall, Wilson oversaw the construction of dozens of buildings across campuses. He was chair of the physical properties committee for the board, arguably the most important committee, from October 2014 through September 2020.

He also served on the athletics committee for much of his tenure, and he was the chair until he died. The athletics committee served primarily in a communication capacity to have open dialogue with presidents and athletic departments.

“He was one I knew I could always count on to give great insight and council and be able to know what he was saying was coming with all good intentions for what was best for the University of Alabama,” Byrne said. “He was not only a trustee, but he was a friend.”

Reckon Jim wasn’t much of a basketball fan, eh?

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.