First Team Players Have Good Scrimmage

Alabama's football team was on exhibit at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday. Well, it wasn't on exhibit to many people, only a few hundred special guests allowed to watch Bama's closed practices.

But Alabama Coach Nick Saban characterized the second Crimson Tide scrimmage of the fall as being "a little bit like an exhibition game."

Saban said, "The objective...was to play at least part of the scrimmage, the first part of the scrimmage, a little bit like an exhibition game. Game-like situations with penalties, substitutions. For the first probably 55-60 plays, we played it just like a game.

"And during that part of the scrimmage I was really pleased, especially with the way our ones played – the ones (first team players) played against the twos (second teamers) both ways. I thought the intensity and energy was good both ways. Both first units probably did a pretty good job.

"After that, we went back to situational stuff. We played good on good. Obviously, when you play good on good, somebody wins and somebody loses. There were good things and bad things both ways."

For the second time this fall (and since Saban has been Alabama's coach) he elected to not share statistics of the quarterbacks. But he did provide some numbers from the work.

Senior All-America safety Mark Barron led the defense with six tackles, one interception, one sack, three pass break-ups and a blocked kick. Dont'a Hightower also had six stops (one tackle for loss) while Courtney Upshaw (5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pass break up) and C.J. Mosley (5 tackles, 1 pass break up) were next on the list of leading tacklers.

"I felt we ran the ball a little better in this scrimmage," Saban said. Eddie Lacy had seven carries for 57 yards and a touchdown and Trent Richardson had seven carries for 39 yards. Both also had several pass receptions.

"We made some big plays offensively, which is a good thing," Saban said. "But sometimes we made those plays when maybe the competition we made them against wasn't quite what it should have been or could have been or needed to be."

"I think the biggest thing that came out of today's scrimmage is probably need more players to be able to compete at a higher level," Saban said. "I was not really pleased with the way some of our twos competed. We had a few guys that aren't playing all the time, we're trying to give some young guys some opportunities to play so we can get a look at them. And they don't respond maybe the way you'd like for them to, which is a sign of (im)maturity. These are the kinds of lessons they learn from and grow from. But if I say there's one thing I'd want to make a big improvement in, it's how our second units actually competed and played and executed. I think they can be a lot better than they were.

"There're obviously a lot of things we need to do to get game ready. I still feel like even though we didn't have a lot of penalties, the kind of penalties we had are critical – false start coming out, offsides on third down twice that converts to a first down. Things like that that are undisciplined type penalties that just kill you in critical situations in the game."

Starting cornrback Dre Kirkpatrick (leg bruise), back-up offensive tackle Arie Kouandjio (kneecap tendon), and back-up nose tackle Brandon Ivory (knee sprain) were held out of the scrimmage.

Saban said, "We will give the players two days off, Sunday and Monday. Typically we do trying to get the rest and recovery to get them back after what's been a good fall camp, but a tough fall camp. That's the way we want it to be and that's the way it should be."

Alabama opens the season September 3 hosting Kent State.  

Saban was asked about team chemisty. He said, "I think leadership is really, really important. I think that the energy and intensity was not what it needed to be today. It was really warm out there and as the scrimmage wore on I thought we got a little bit sluggish. I would to see more positive energy from guys to affect others. We've had really good leadership on this team, the guys have done a good job with that, but what we really need is to do is?continue that on a consistent basis and guys need to realize how their body language affects other players. But I feel like this team has good chemistry. You never know about that until you play. We've done things the right way so far."?

Asked about special teams play, Saban said, "Marquis Mazes did a good job again today on return duty. Our specialist did a better job, Cody Mandell has been better, more consistent with his punting. Cade Foster missed a couple of field goals today that he would normally make.

?"Overall, I think the effort and energy we're getting on special teams?on our team needs to improve. It's an area that we have a lot of?experienced players back on and it's something that we should expect?to be good at. But we're going to have to put a little more into it if?we're going to expect the kinds of results that we'd like to get."?

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