Posted: Tuesday March 6, 2012 4:39 PM

Saban: Eddie Lacy to miss spring with injury

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Alabama heads into spring practice without its most experienced tailback Eddie Lacy and much talked about receiver Duron Carter.

Coach Nick Saban said Tuesday that Lacy will miss the spring for the defending national champion Crimson Tide while recovering from surgery for a turf toe injury that plagued him since the Arkansas game last season. Carter, meanwhile, remains suspended after being held out of practice leading up to the BCS title game against LSU, and Saban said he doesn't have a timetable for his return.

Alabama still has plenty of young candidates hoping to take advantage of their absence at positions with plenty of room for playmakers to step in.

Lacy is perhaps the leading candidate to replace Heisman Trophy finalist Trent Richardson, who replaced Heisman winner Mark Ingram, in the backfield.

That leaves two former five-star recruits, redshirt freshman Dee Hart and mid-year enrollee T.J. Yeldon, competing with Jalston Fowler and Blake Sims during the spring. Lacy ran for 674 yards and seven touchdowns, while averaging 7.1 yards a carry, last season.

"All those guys are going to get an equal opportunity,'' Saban said in an informal session with beat writers. "Jalston has probably played the most and he's had a good offseason. It's not a bad thing that those guys are going to get a lot of reps, a lot of turns. It's a good thing.''

Offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio is also out for the spring while recovering from knee surgery.

"They're not ready,'' Saban said. "We knew that when they got the surgeries, so this is no surprise to anyone.''

Like Carter, receivers Michael Bowman and Ronald Carswell are on suspension carrying over from the season's end. None of them had a catch last season, but Carter was a highly touted junior college transfer who started his career at Ohio State but sat out after a transcript issue.

Alabama must replace top receivers Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks.

Freshmen Amari Cooper and Chris Black, two of the nation's top recruits at that position, are already enrolled and set for spring practice.

Saban also touched on other issues and personnel matters.

- Regarding new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, hired after Jim McElwain took the head coaching position at Colorado State, he said there won't be wholesale changes in system or philosophy.

"Everybody in the building's got to learn a whole new system because one guy's changed? We're not doing that,'' Saban said. "This is Alabama's offense. We will make some changes ... But I would think we would like to move toward being more like what we were in the bowl game in terms of the diversity of what we do on offense. But on offense you have to continue to try to make sure you're doing the things that your players can do and that you have the right kind of players to do those things. That determines it to some degree.''

- Saban said doctors cleared linebacker CJ Mosley this week to go full-speed after dislocating his hip during the national title game.

"This week he was cleared to go and do what everybody else is doing,'' the coach said.

- Linemen Tyler Love and Undra Billingsley, who have already graduated, decided not to return for their senior seasons, Saban said, while punter Jay Williams is going to play baseball instead.

- Redshirt freshman Brent Calloway, who spent last season working at running back, will open the spring at linebacker. He was recruited at both positions.

"We're looking at him at what he didn't do,'' Saban said. "We recruited him as a guy who could play running back, could play linebacker. He played running back all last year, so now we're going to look at him at linebacker and see where he would make the best contribution. These are experiments. This is not a final move.''
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