Saban Took Note Of Big Scrimmage Plays

One of the things Nick Saban lectures sports reporters about is making too much of scrimmage statistics. As he correctly points out, the reporters have not seen the scrimmage (his decision), and thus can't know the circumstances of the raw statistics.



It is one thing for Alabama quarterbacks to throw to Crimson Tide receivers and Alabama running backs to rush against the first Bama defense; quite another for those statistics to be rolled up against the second or third team players.

But when Tide Coach Nick Saban was asked about the cornerbacks following Saturday's scrimmage, he gave a hint as to what was going on at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

"We gave up too many big plays," Saban said.

Those raw statistics provided reporters included passing and rushing touchdowns. They were:

Passing Touchdowns (9): A.J. McCarron – 5 (36 yards, 55 yards, 18 yards, 3 yards; 12 yards); Blake Sims – 2 (22 yards, 63 yards); Alec Morris – 1 (10 yards); Parker McLeod – 1 (23 yards)

Rushing Touchdowns (2): T.J. Yeldon – 2 (65 yards, 7 yards)

In his discussion of the cornerbacks, Saban went on to say that "We actually made some improvement in some areas, and I think that's a work in progress. Everybody at that position needs to continue to improve and we've just got to play a little smarter. A lot of it is attention to detail in terms of technique, playing the right leverage on people, playing with more confidence. I think all of those things are really important to being a good cover guy.

"Deion Belue has had a really good spring, Geno Smith has made progress, but he needs to continue to improve. John Fulton is getting back to where he might be able to do some things next week - he probably won't be able to do any team-type stuff. The young guys coming from offense (Cyrus Jones and Dee Hart) working over there have all made a significant amount of improvement too, but I think we need to continue to work and have a lot of areas that we can improve in."

The news that Fulton might be back in some capacity was news. It had been thought that Fulton, a 6-0, 186-pound senior cornerback, would be limited to conditioning work through the spring after having undergone surgery to repair a turf toe injury. He and wide receiver Kevin Norwood have been seen only on stationary bicycles for most of the time reporters could watch practice.

They were joined last week by linebacker Trey DePriest, who is sitting out the rest of spring after having undergone surgery for a stress fracture in his foot.

Saban also revealed that 6-3, 265-pound Xzavier Dickson did not participate in the scrimmage because he bruised his kneecap. "He was out there today, did individual [work], but we did not scrimmage him," the coach said.

Saban also said that Dickson is working at outside linebacker in regular defense, but moves to defensive end in nickel situations.

The coach said that Dickson might be back next week. But, he added, "Maybe he won't. I don't think we'll take a lot of chances in pushing players at this point."

Alabama has only three practices remaining – Tuesday and Thursday practices and the A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday.

The same goes for Hart, who is primarily back at running back now, and for Jalston Fowler, who has been in a black jersey throughout the spring. (And although Saban didn't mention him, linebacker C.J. Mosley is in the same boat.) Players in the black (non-contact) jerseys are not tackled, even though they participate to some extent in all work.

"Why take a chance at this point?" the coach said.

He added that Fowler, a 6-1, 250-pound junior running back/H-back, "has made good progress. He had a pretty significant (knee) injury. I think everybody's pleased with where he is, but he does have a little ways to go yet. A lot of it just has to do with confidence."

The Alabama football team will be off from practice Monday. The Crimson Tide is going to Washington to be honored by President Obama at the White House.

This will be the third trip in four years for the team, second in a row, and Saban's fourth trip (he also took an LSU national championship team to Washington). The coach was asked if he would do anything different on this trip.

Saban said on these trips that he wants to "expose the players to something a little bit different. After we go to the White House, we're going to go to the Smithsonian for an hour or two."

Saban added the trip to the White House "is really special. I think it's special to our players. It's a great opportunity for our players. President Obama has always been really hospitable in terms of shaking hands with all the players and saying hello. They really, really do appreciate that."

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