Tuscaloosa, AL---Fall practice officially began Friday for the Alabama, as the Crimson Tide headed out to the field to truly begin preparation for the 2014 campaign.
It marked the first of 28 practices leading up to 'Bama's season opener August 30th against West Virginia in the Georgia Dome and comes a day after the Tide were slotted at number two by the Preseason Coaches Poll, thanks to returning 13 starters to a squad that looked poised to chase a third straight national championship, before their loss to Auburn in 2013's memorable Iron Bowl matchup.
This season, it's in the players hand to get back into the championship chase.
"For this team, the challenge is sort of to resurrect our identity in terms of what we want Alabama football to be," says head coach Nick Saban. "I'm very confident, we're very confident in the players that we have. But I also think it's up to them to sort of buy in to what they need to do to be all they can be."
In terms of holding players accountable, Saban announced in his press conference defensive linemen Jarran Reed, Brandon Ivory, and Tim Williams have all been suspended for unspecified reasons and will be allowed back after completion of said suspensions.
Entering year eight of the Nick Saban era, there's a lot of new for 'Bama. A new extension for the head coach, a new offensive coordinator in Lane Kiffin, and a new quarterback leading the attack.
The competition to replace Heisman finalist AJ McCarron has been led in public opinion by Florida State transfer Jacob Coker, who saw his first official Alabama action today, and last year's back up, Blake Sims.
Speaking in the general context of the entire team today, Saban says no depth chart's been set just yet.
"Everybody that we have on the field has the opportunity to compete. Some players have had an opportunity in the past to show us what they can do, so I think it's a little more important that we look at maybe some other guys so that we have an opportunity to see what they can do.