LOS ANGELES – In the wake of Michigan's sign-stealing scandal, Alabama has taken extra precautions to avoid interference by changing the way its players watch practice film before a football semifinal game at the Rose Bowl.
“We're just trying to secure our stuff,” Alabama's Jesse McClellan said. “[The coaches] Didn't do much explaining. They did it and told us and we adapted to it.”
According to several players who spoke Thursday, while they would normally be able to get a movie on their iPads and take it home to watch on their own time, players are no longer able to do that as they prepare for the playoff.
“I think they said Michigan was stealing signs the first eight weeks or something,” wide receiver Isaiah Bond said. “So we're just watching the film with the team, because we're not allowed to watch the film alone, and we don't want anything like this to happen again.”
Since Michigan has been accused of stealing opponents' signals this season, opponents have changed their in-game signals and the way they communicate them as well.
Not only does Alabama appear to have instructed its players to avoid using their iPads to study film, but as McClellan explained, the team no longer uploads practice film to players' devices anymore, instead keeping it in the main computer system for players to watch with their position groups during… Their presence in the training facility.
“We just have to go to a different location to watch film, but we all watch film like we normally would in a normal game,” offensive lineman Tyler Booker said. “There might be a connection because the way the movie was set up with the server. All we know is that we have to go out and treat the preparation like any other game.”
“We're used to it, we watch the movie on a daily basis, but on our own time we can't watch it alone now,” McLellan said. “We all got together to watch it. I don't see that as a shame; we had two weeks to watch the movie.”
Although several Alabama players acknowledged the technical changes in film consumption, offensive coordinator Tommy Reese declined to answer any questions on the subject.
“I'm not going to go through the whole movie that way,” Reese said. “I'm not talking about that. Like I said, our job is to give our players the best chance to succeed on the field. We're focused on what we're trying to do, and that's really it.”
Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe also brushed off the idea of not being able to watch film individually and whether that affects the team's preparation.
“Well, I watch film all day,” Milroe said. “This is something I did because the most important thing is to try to be more prepared for all situations in the game. So I watch film as much as I can and I can't really talk about that, but for me I'm preparing as much as I can.”
Offensive tackle JC Latham said that on any given week he would use any free time while recovering or eating at home to watch film, but given the changes, it changed the way he had to consume tape.
“I'm definitely watching it more closely now because I can't do it at home,” Latham said.
As for whether the extra sponsorship will be taken into consideration when Michigan's undefeated team faces the Tide, Bond said he believes the difference is negligible, especially once the game gets underway.
“Honestly, I don't care because at the end of the day they still have to go on the field to play us,” Bond said. “You can know my way around, but they still have to guard me at the end of the day.”
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