Offense Praised After Scrimmage

Quarterback play, specifically the positive review of quarterback performance, was the big story from the first scrimmage of the spring for Alabama football. As has often been pointed out, quarterback success is dependent on the play of those around him.

Following Alabama's practice at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday, Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban said, "When you have a scrimmage...every time something good happens, that means that maybe something bad happens, too. But I think the real positive overall was we did a really good job offensively."

There was much discussion of good play by quarterbacks A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims.

Saban said, "We moved the ball effectively. We did a nice job on the offensive line. We did a nice job running the ball. Both backs (Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy) did a nice job, made some big plays out there. I was really pleased with the way we played offensively.

Lacy, who was last seen having a big game in a mop-up role against Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl, had 10 rushes for 92 yards and three touchdowns in Saturday's scrimmage. He scored on runs of 45 yards, six yards, and three yards.

Richardson, the back-up the past two years to former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and considered the favorite for the starting job this year, had five carries for 40 yards. Jalston Fowler had five runs for 31 yards. Freshman Dee Hart got plenty of work, 11 carries, but had only 25 yards.

"It will be interesting to evaluate some of the young players in this scrimmage. We had some young guys on offense who had some good production, made some good plays."

Saban said, "The offensive line did a pretty god job today. I think we still have competition at left tackle."

The offensive line returns starters at four of five possessions. Asked about the competition at left tackle, where James Carpenter has departed, Saban said, "Aaron Douglas (a junior college transfer) is making progress every day. Aaron has made significant progress from about the third practice on each day in pads. Hopefully, he'll continue to do that. (He added that all three junior college transfers, including defensive linemen Jesse Williams and Quinton Dial, "have the ability to contribute to the team.)

Senior Alfred McCullough, a back-up at both tackle spots and at guard the past two years, is one of the most versatile Tide linemen and had been projected as in the battle at left tackle. Saban said, "We haven't had the opportunity yet to play him inside much, but we certainly could."

Saban is also looking for back-ups. "I think the depth of the offensive line is a little better, a little more experienced, than it was a year ago," he said. "We souldn't get in the situation next year where we have three redshirt freshmen playing in the game. I don't think there's any question that tackle types is an area where we need to develop depth."

He said Anthony Steen "has done a really god job of pressing the guys at guard. And the other area we're really trying to experiment and develop is a back-up center. Kellen Williams probably has done the best job so far in terms of showing toughness. We did have some issues with snaps earlier, but that seems to be improveing as we go."

The quarterbacks having a good day meant the receivers also were impressive. "I was improved with the group as a whole," Saban said. "Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks after a little bit of a slow start got going pretty good. Kenny Bell had some catches today, made some plays. DeAndrew White had one big play today, too."

Bell had seven receptions for 89 yards, including touchdown receptions of 14 and seven yards from McCarron. Maze had four receptions for 76 yards, including a 59-yard TD from McCarron and an 18-yard scoring pass from sims. Hanks had five catches for 61 yards, White four for 61, Brandon Giveson three for 28, and Kevin Norwood two for 16. Other receptions were by Richardson (2-25 yards and an 18-yard touchdown from sims) and three for 17 yards by tight end Brad Smelley.

Saban said, "Hopefully those guys getting some catches and having some production will help their confidence and development. And that will be a real key for us because that is an area where we need to develop some players, some depth, and a quality starter or two so that we can play winning football."

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