Tide Scrimmage Shows Improvement

Alabama's second scrimmage of the spring started slow, but got better as it went along, which is more the way a Crimson Tide team is expected to perform that was the case in the first scrimmage. Less than a week after going to Bryant-Denny Stadium for scrimmage number one, the Crimson Tide was back at it Friday.



Alabama Coach Nick Saban said, "We didn't start out very well offensively, but I thought we did better as we moved along. I think we ran the ball a little more effectively. I think the hitting was a little crisper out there. We probably didn't throw quite as much as we did in the last scrimmage.

"Defensively, I think the first unit played pretty well. A couple situations that they made some mental errors in that cost them. I think there were a couple situations at the end where we play end of the game situations that we had some critical penalties on both sides of the ball that players can learn from in terms of making mistakes when it's fourth-and-two to win a game. You get a penalty and give them another chance that can be pretty costly. So get them stopped on the 4-yard line and be offsides, unforced errors, give them another chance and they go in and score.

"So there's a lot of things like that, a lot of lessons to be learned. That's what we want to do with spring practice. I think the goal and objective is to go over this film Monday and have two really good practices next week. Work on a couple more of our opponents and kind of go from there."

A week earlier in the first scrimmage of the spring the players said they started strong, but had a little lull, adding that is not the way Saban expects them to finish.

In the two-hour, 120-play scrimmage, junior quarterback A.J. McCarron completed 14 of 29 passes for 160 yards and four touchdowns while throwing one interception. Junior running back Jalston Fowler rushed for 151 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns. Fowler had a 68-yard run that came during situational work. McCarron

DeAndrew White, who is coming off of a strained hamstring, turned in an outstanding scrimmage with 112 yards on five receptions with two touchdowns. Christion Jones added five catches for 61 yards and two scores while Kevin Norwood caught four balls for 55 yards. Fowler also added a two-yard scoring catch.

On defense, linebacker C.J. Mosley led the way with eight tackles and one pass breakup. Defensive end Damion Square provided the pressure in the backfield with five tackles, including three for loss and two sacks.

Alabama suffered a few injuries in the scrimmage, but Saban indicated none were expected to prove serious. He said nose tackle Jesse Williams and defensive backs Vinnie Sunseri and Caleb Castille suffered ankle sprains and that safety Robert Lester strained a knee.

Saban said, "The number one thing I talked about the other day was how we improve. So the message to the players today was: ‘Are you going to be able to go out there and play better today than you did the last opportunity you had in the last scrimmage? Are you going to be able to play with more consistent effort, toughness and focus to be able to execute and do your job?'

"And probably the first units were pretty good at that. I'd say that we made some improvement. But I'm not sure that we have enough guys sort of where they need to be – which is why we have spring practice, that's why they call us coach, that's why we teach. So we certainly have some work to do, especially with the depth on our team.

"We've got a lot of young players and they have a very enthusiastic attitude and they're trying hard but I think they need a little bit more knowledge and experience to get where we need them to go. We're going to keep working hard with them. We're certainly not frustrated with anything that they're doing. We're not disappointed in where we're at, but we're certainly not satisfied, either."

It was a bit of an unusual week for Alabama spring practice because this year Easter falls during spring drills. Saban doesn't like to practice on the Saturday before Easter (so players can go home for the holiday) and he doesn't like to have consecutive days of practice. Therefore, this week Bama worked on Monday and Wednesday and had a scrimmage Saturday.

Saban said the unusual schedule did not adversely affect work.

"No, not at all," he said. "We did all the situations that we normally do. We implemented them into the two practices that we had. Game-wise, we looked a lot better as a football team, a little crisper, a little faster. Maybe that's because we had a day off in between and we only had two practices. That was probably a good thing."

Next week Alabama will work on Tuesday and Thursday and have the annual A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, April 14, with a 2 p.m. CDT starting time.

Saban said the running game was better because "Jalston Fowler ran it a little bit better today. T.J. Yeldon didn't gain a lot of yards but got some good experience. I think the first offense ran the ball and had better balance today. I think that's probably a more accurate statement. The second offensive line really couldn't block the defense very well and didn't do very much and that always affects the stats adversely. Sometimes, when a guy makes a big play, that also affects the stats adversely.

"DeAndrew White scrimmaged today and had five catches. Christion Jones had another good day, Kevin Norwood had a good day. I think the first offense, the offensive line, did a nice job.

"I just thought we did well offensively. It didn't seem like we were in sync to start, but as the scrimmage wore on, I thought we really picked it up and made some plays and did a really good job and looked very good offensively. We took advantage of some situations and did some really good things."

Saban had good words for quarterback AJ McCarron.

"AJ has been consistently good all spring," Saban said. "He wasn't the problem (for the slow start by the offense)."

Regarding punt and kickoff returns, Saban said that Christion Jones, who took over for Marquis Maze ihe BCS National Championship Game, "has done a nice job all spring. He's also a pretty good kick return guy. (True freshman) Amari Cooper looks like a pretty good kick return guy. Dee Milliner will probably be back there as the off returner on kickoffs. Deion Belue is also back on punt returns and so is Dee Hart."

He said that Adrian Hubbard and Xzavier Dickson are the edge rush players with size and pass rushing ability and that he wants to develop more men like that. The coach said playmakers in the secondary have been Vinnie Sunseri, Dee Milliner, Robert Lester, and Deion Belue.

"You can never find enough," Saban said.

Statistics from the Friday, April 6, Alabama football scrimmage. (Stats include 11-on-11, situational drills, red area, goalline, and two-minute)

PASSING LEADERS

A J McCarron – 14 for 29, 160 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT

RUSHING LEADERS

Jalston Fowler – 22 rushes, 151 yards, 3 TDs

RECEIVING LEADERS

DeAndrew White – 5 rec., 112 yards, 2 TD

Christion Jones – 5 rec., 61 yards, 2 TD

Kevin Norwood – 4 rec., 54 yards

Chris Black – 2 rec., 36 yards

DEFENSIVE LEADERS

C.J. Mosley – 8 tackles, 1 PBU

Damion Square – 5 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks

Dee Milliner – 5 tackles, 1 FF

Trey DePriest – 5 tackles, 1 PBU, 1 FR

HaHa Clinton-Dix – 4 tackles, 1 INT

Nick Perry – 4 tackles

Vinnie Sunseri – 4 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack

Jesse Williams – 4 tackles, 2 TFL

Tana Patrick – 4 tackles

PUNTING

Cody Mandell – 12 punts, 504 yards, 42.0 avg., Long 56

FIELD GOALS

Cade Foster – 3 for 6, Long 50 (Made: 50, 20, 20; Missed: 46, 35, 32)

SCORING

Passing Touchdowns (5): A.J. McCarron – 4 (16 yards, 11 yards, 2 yards, 2 yards); Phillip Ely 1 (2 yards)

Rushing Touchdowns (3): Jalston Fowler – 3 (3 yards, 1 yard, 68 yards (Situational)

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