TUSCALOOSA, Ala. _ Normally during the first week of training camp the defense is usually ahead of the offense because so many things have to come together when trying to move the ball down the field.

Not so for this year’s University of Alabama football team. After five full days of installation, and the first scrimmage looming on Saturday, the exact opposite is true.

“I’ve been pretty pleased with how we’ve developed on offense,” Coach Nick Saban said. “Most of the time defense is a little bit ahead, but it really does seem like our offense has shown a little more maturity and early signs of … when the quarterbacks do well, we can be pretty good.”

While Saban said the quarterbacks in general have done “really well,” it’s almost the only position on the offensive side in which there isn’t an established starter – the major exception being right guard.

For example, at running back the top five producers are all back, who combined for 82 percent of the carries and 93 percent of the rushing yards in 2013.

“Just focused,” senior fullback Jalston Fowler said. “Last year we were a good group, but we just weren’t focused as much as we were now.”

The other playmakers appear to be off to a good start as well. While Saban singled out reserve wide receivers Chris Black, Ardarius Stewart and Robert Foster as all having “dramatically” improved behind Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White and Christion Jones, he also had high praise for sophomore tight end O.J. Howard.

“O.J. Howard is doing really, really well,” Saban said. “He’s gotten a little bigger, a little stronger. He’s improved some as a blocker, still has a way to go, but is really a mismatch player as a receiver. Having a guy like that, really there’s a lot of multiples in terms of how you can use him and create problems for the defense to have to adjust to him.”