For Alabama football coach Nick Saban, Saturday represented the end of preseason camp, even though there really wasn't a camp this year due to the coronavirus-related practice scheduling guidelines implemented by the Southeastern Conference.
For Auburn counterpart Gus Malzahn, Saturday signified the two-week countdown to the season opener, which means that every positive COVID-19 test moving forward could have a significant impact.
The Crimson Tide and the Tigers conducted scrimmages inside their respective venues, with Malzahn announcing that 10 players sat out because of COVID-19 issues. Malzahn added that there were two new positive tests this past week and that half of those sidelined Saturday are projected starters.
"I think all these guys will be back for the opener," Malzahn said on a Zoom call. "The issue is that we're two weeks away from our first opponent, and we're going to really focus on a game plan. If you don't have these guys for the game plan and get them the week of the game — it's just the preparation reps that are the challenge."
Auburn opens its season Sept. 26 against visiting Kentucky, with Alabama playing at Missouri that day.
The Tide held their second preseason scrimmage, and Saban said it included more than 30 plays in game-like situations. He added that there will be a different feel when workouts resume.
"We now have to have a sense of urgency to get ready for the season," Saban said, "and we'll actually start that when we get back to practice Tuesday in terms of early opponents and getting ready for our first game."
Saban praised the performance of his offense Saturday, citing the play of quarterbacks Mac Jones and Bryce Young, the receiver tandem of DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, and the depth and experience at both running back and on the offensive line. He added that the defense, which is younger by comparison, had moments Saturday but "has a lot to clean up."
On the special teams front, Saban said sophomore kicker Will Reichard was 4-for-5 on field-goal attempts, with his miss occurring from 55 yards.
"I'm not at all disappointed in the progress made to this point," Saban said.
Redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Christian Barmore did not scrimmage Saturday and will miss a few days due to a knee injury Saban said was "not significant."
Malzahn, meanwhile, singled out junior running back Shaun Shivers for having an excellent preseason.