Q. How difficult is it for a quarterback to provide the kind of leadership that you want from that position before a starter has been named?
RYAN DAY: I don’t think it’s that hard because of the nature of the position. I think that all quarterbacks should be leaders, and I think whether it’s the starter, the backup, whoever, that’s his leadership role and that’s just part of the job. At the end of the day, your job as a quarterback is to lead 10 men down the field to a touchdown. So it goes with the job, with the territory, and Joe Burrow was never a starting quarterback here but he was always a leader when he was here. So I think that’s just part of the job, regardless of whether you’re a starter or a backup.
Q. And you’re about halfway through camp. Who’s flashed? Who’s really impressed you to this point?
RYAN DAY: On the whole team or — well, I want to look at the film today. Today was really the first day in pads that we’ve hit, that we’ve tackled to the ground. A lot of the stuff leading up to this point we were kind of installing, and you didn’t get a good feel for that. Today was a little bit more of a feel for that. I want to get on the film and see what that was all about, but certainly the defensive line I thought did a good creating penetration. You felt that, and Baron Browning has shown so far that he’s really made a lot of progress in a short period of time. That’s been exciting.
I think our secondary is getting their hands on a lot of balls. We had a couple of pick-sixes out there which was really good today. I think those guys are doing a good job. I want to watch the film and really grade it and see how guys graded out, but we’re going to treat it like a game and see how everybody did in terms of a grade, and then we’ll go from there.
Q. B.B. Landers talked at practice the other day about mental health issues, and he put that Twitter video out after the Dayton shooting I’m sure you’ve seen. What does it mean to you to have a kid like that who’s willing to talk about this issue openly?
RYAN DAY: Well, first off, I’m proud that he did that. I think that it hit home close to him, being from Dayton. But when you look at what’s going on out there, it’s happened in almost every major city since January 1st, and there’s so much going on with it. We’ve had meetings. I’ve talked to the team about Nina and I’s fund and what we believe in, on our sleeves. We’ve hired two more athletic counselors that will be in house, that will be working with our guys, and they were introduced to the team this past week, and they understand that we’re here, that there’s no stigma attached in asking for help, and mental illness is one of those things that we have to make sure that there’s no stigma attached to it.
I think our guys are hearing the message, and I’m proud of B.B. for standing up. B.B. is somebody who’s been here for a while, has got a lot of respect from the younger guys, and to have a voice like that so that people can hear that it’s okay to ask for help, it means a lot. So I give B.B. a lot of credit for doing that.
Q. I know you said you were going to watch the film regarding the scrimmage, but would you say the defense is a little bit ahead of the offense right now?
RYAN DAY: Well, I got after the offense today for sure. Offense turned the ball over too many times, didn’t run the ball the way that they should. So defense won the day for sure.
I think when you look at the experience level, sure, I think the defense has more experience. I think schematically the offense has a couple years in, some of the older guys. So I don’t know really who’s ahead of the other, but I will say up to this point, it’s kind of gone back and forth, which is a good sign. The offense will kind of get after the defense one day and then vice versa. So that’s healthy.
I think if one side is dominating the other throughout camp then you may have an issue, but right now it’s been a good battle. Very disappointed with the turnovers today but I think guys were getting after it. I think it was physical, I think it was explosive. So again, let’s look at the film and see what it was. It’s never as good or bad as you think, but we certainly can’t turn the ball over like we did today.
Q. I know injuries is a touchy subject but I do want to ask about Austin Mack. What can you share about Austin Mack?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, again, not really getting into specifics on injuries, but he’s out right now and we expect him back in another week or so.
Q. Can you just go into a little bit more on the scrimmage? How many plays did you go and that sort of thing?
RYAN DAY: I don’t know the exact number, but we tried to even it out. I think we were somewhere around 40 plays with the ones, I think it was more with the twos and then we actually got a bunch of reps with the threes, too. So probably closer to 30 there. So there will be a lot of film to look at. We started off by just moving it up and down the field and then we got into 3rd down situations. We had a coming-out situation, and then we went down into the red zone.
So kind of moved it around a little bit situationally. This upcoming week we’ll start to get into some more two-minute in-game situations, but this gives us an opportunity to kind of learn, get the coaches off the field and let them play. So we’re working out the kinks that way and also ball security. When you’re not really hitting live, you’re not sure sometimes what ball security is for running backs, quarterbacks and things like that. So it was good to see.
Q. You mentioned the turnovers. Was that interceptions or ball-security issues?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, we had a couple balls on the ground, fumbles-wise, and then I think we had at least two interceptions. Defense is being really opportunistic. Throughout camp they’ve done a great job of getting their hands on balls. Really good. So that’s a positive right there. But on the other side we’ve got to do a better job taking care of it.
Q. Can you watch this team now and still be wowed by a play or a player?
RYAN DAY: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Q. Did that happen today? Did anybody wow you today, or who has done that for you?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, every day you see things that are pretty amazing. We have some really good athletes out there and guys are competing, and any time that happens, sometimes you see it live and it kind of takes you — you recognize it. Sometimes you don’t catch it until you watch it on film and you see it three or four times and you recognize what a nice play it was.
So it’s good. I think the guys are competing out there. I think we’ve got some really good skill guys, got some good battles going on up front, and again, the whole thing is being physical and how tough can we play.
Q. You mentioned Baron Browning. Where is he, middle linebacker, Will, what’s he doing right now?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, he’s playing mostly in the middle. He’ll move around a little bit, though. He plays fast. He’s very, very athletic that way. He’s physical. He’s big. He’s strong. I think Al (Washington) is doing a good job with him in terms of understanding and diagnosing plays and being in the right spot at the right time. I think all the linebackers are doing a good job. It’s a long, athletic group right there, and so they’re off to a good start.
Q. The right tackle position might be the most competitive on your offense. Could you give an assessment of where that stands right now?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I think Bowen, he has more experience. He’s been there before. I think it’s the first time he’s felt really strong on that leg. He’s doing a really good job. He’s been solid. And then Nick, not as much experience, a lot of upside.
I think when you look at it right now, it’s probably really close. It’s probably neck and neck. They’re rotating in. Some are getting reps with the ones and twos. We don’t really look at who they’re with, we just kind of roll them. Stud is doing a good job of rolling those guys and making sure they’re getting reps, because if both of them deserve to play they will play.
So right now I think it’s pretty good. I want to see how they grade out today.
Q. How do you do that when there can only be one right tackle at a time? Are you going to seriously consider rotating guys within games?
RYAN DAY: Yes. Yep.
Q. When you talk about the turnover problems today, is your first impression, would it be offensive execution or credit to the defense?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, that’s a great question. Because I think once you get on the film, you have to realize and look at and see what exactly was going on, was it a pressure, was it a route that was run incorrectly or was it just a really good defensive play. That’s what we have to look at.
I think maybe a little bit of both. I think there’s some things we could have cleaned up and been a little bit careful. What happens when you play quarterback in practice there’s no real ramifications for throwing it late in the down, throwing it downfield. If a play is made, it’s made. If not, it’s the next play in practice. But when you’re in scrimmage, you’re in the game we obviously know it could be detrimental the whole game. What we tried to create that environment today, and hopefully some learning lessons there.
Q. I know we’ve asked you every time about the quarterbacks, but you had suggested you might want to know by two weeks of practice. Is that still the time frame? Did today help?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I thought after today I’d have a better feel. Nobody went out there and won the job for sure. So again, still a work in progress. Hopefully at this time next week somebody steps up and wins the job.
Q. We saw Jameson Williams lose his black stripe the other day. Where have you seen him making a push?
RYAN DAY: First off, I think he’s got some competitiveness in him. He’s tough. He’s obviously very — got a lot of long-end speed. He can really run, and he’s been doing a good job. He’s stepped right up. He has the mentality that he wants to come in here and play as a freshman, which I can appreciate. He’s doing a good job on special teams and he’s mixing it up right away.
He’s still got a lot to learn. Made a bunch of mental mistakes today but again, he’s a freshman and still learning. But he’s got the right attitude, and he’s going hard, so we can work with that.
Q. Punt block, special teams, is that where you guys have him?
RYAN DAY: So he’s been doing a bunch of that stuff. He’s been kind of moving around, and as we build the depth chart, he’s going to be in consideration on some of the scout stuff. He’s blocked some punts for us against our first punt team and shown up there, giving great effort. Any time that happens, then we’re certainly going to take a look. And then maybe even as the season goes on, start to give him more responsibility if that’s the case. But that’s the case with everybody, so they’ve got to earn it.
Q. You were talking the other day about how important it is to find a No. 2 back behind J.K. Does Jaelen Gill factor in there at all?
RYAN DAY: Jaelen is at H right now, so he’s mostly at receiver. So yeah, we’re looking for that backup spot. Had an opportunity, again, to say okay, here is somebody that is going to win that spot today and it didn’t happen. We’re still looking for that guy. Master hasn’t been practicing, so it’s hard obviously for him to win the job. Demario and Marcus and Steele are kind of in the battle for it, and that battle continues.
Q. Nick Saban said this week that he’s in favor of Alabama playing two Power Five non-conference games. I know Ohio State has that coming up some years in the future. Just wondering as a head coach now what your philosophy is on non-conference schedule.
RYAN DAY: Well, I think when Coach Saban is talking about his scheduling, it’s just different than ours because we have more conference games, so I don’t know if it’s apples to apples. We have our nine conference games, and so that’s different.
I think if we both had eight conference games, then maybe that would be something to consider, but I think having nine conference games is hard. It just is. I think it’s hard on the strength of schedule late in the season, and it’s hard obviously when you have to play in this conference and play that many games.
I think we’re talking about two different things.
Q. And then just another broader question: The targeting rule has been around for 10 or 11 years now, there have been some tweaks to it this off-season. What are your thoughts on how it’s worked, how it hasn’t worked?
RYAN DAY: Well, I think when you look back on some of those hits that were happening 10 years ago, I mean, when you see them now, you stop, and it just takes your breath away because of how violent they were. It certainly has helped the safety of the player. I think that sometimes guys are penalized when maybe there’s nothing they could have done. But I think the spirit of the rule was to protect players more, and I think it’s done that.
Q. What is sort of the status of Thayer Munford, for example? Are you bringing him along slowly? How would you describe it?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, he’s on volume control, and he’s coming back strong. He looks really, really good, and we’re not just going to throw him out to the wolves early on, we’re going to try to ease him back. But so far his progress has been really good.
Q. As you talk here and as you’ve been speaking here through camp, you seem pretty enthused about your defense. Does it look different? Does it feel different than it did a year ago? What has you kind of going on about that group?
RYAN DAY: Well, I just think, first off, there’s an energy to them. I always like when guys are a little salty and have an edge to them and have something to prove. I just like that about any player at any level, and I feel that about those guys. They had to read a lot of stuff in the off-season and during the season last year, and that makes them hungry. So I just like that spirit they have about them right now. They have something to prove every time they step on the field.
And I think that makes for good football. So I just like being around those guys. They’re tough right now, and I think they just can’t wait to play, and I think the more you see those guys play, I think the more you’ll see that there’s a good chemistry over there, and they like being around each other.
Q. Obviously we didn’t get to watch, but who had the pick sixes? Give us a little bit of a highlight look.
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I think K’Vaughan Pope had one and I believe Sevyn Banks. They both had pick sixes. A lot of energy out there, guys were fired up. Any time you can create a turnover and score it’s huge. Think about the TCU game last year and what that did for that game.
So really excited about that. That’s a huge emphasis for us this year, and proud of those guys. Those are two guys, Sevyn Banks and K’Vaughan Pope had really good camps. They’ve done really good jobs, and lo and behold they’re starting to make really good plays.
Q. Can you talk about how you’re happy with the fact that your secondary is causing transfers? Aside from that the offense turning the ball over, is there a balance of gauging both motions of — you want your defense to cause turnovers but at the same time you don’t want it to be at the expense of your own offense?
RYAN DAY: For sure. As the head coach now, you’ve got to kind of wear both hats and feel that out. But again, is it a really good play, or is it just like if you give up a long pass or a long run, is it just a really good run or did somebody not fit it right or was there a mistake on defense? There’s an interception, was it just a bad read, bad pass or was it just a really good play on defense, and I think that’s what you have to look at. You just correct it the best you can. But anytime you’re competing and you’ve got two sides going after each other, there’s going to be some carnage in there, and you’ve just got to kind of sort through it and make corrections where you need to and then enhance it on the other side.
Q. Did you guys keep score in the scrimmage today?
RYAN DAY: No, we did not. We don’t keep score in the preseason.