First Scrimmage In Books For Tide

Alabama Coach Nick Saban saw good and bad in the first scrimmage of fall camp Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. He liked what he saw of the first teams and also liked the fact that he has something to use as the teaching process continues for younger players. Saban did not seem overly concerned with a few injuries, including one to quarterback AJ McCarron.



"I would say that overall the first teams on both sides of the ball looked pretty good, executed pretty well, made some good plays, showed the sort of mental toughness and disposition that you have to have to be a good foortball player," Alabama Coach Nick Saban said following the first scrimmage of fall came for the Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

There were a few injuries, most notably to quarterback A.J. McCarron, who suffered a bruised foo when he was stepped on. "He'll be fine," Saban said. "He'll be practicing on Monday and he won't have any problems. We just didn't put him back in for two minute at the end."

Saban said that freshman linebacker Reuben Foster suffered a "stinger" and also said that senior cornerback Deion Belue was held out of the scrimmage as he is nursing a pulled hamstring. "You really can't play cornerback at three-quarters speed," the coach said.

In discussing the difference between the scrimmage performance of veterans and that of newcomers, Saban said, "Playing to your max is really all about mindset; it's all mental. Being able to do that enhances performance, even if you can't go full speed. The older players, the more mature players, have a little more mental toughness. So they're all tired, they don't have their legs, they're worn out. They have the ability to mentally play to their max even though they may not be running as fast as they can run, they're still playing to their max.

"So they're enhancing their performance by doing that.

"The younger players and some of the rest of the guys on the team were very sloppy in the way they played. They did some good things, some bad things, made some mental errors.

"This is going to be a great opportunity for us to teach them two things. One, they can't give up. They have to have the mental ability to push themselves to their max to perform even when they're tired. Number two, how costly it is when you don't do your job whether it's team offense, defense or special teams. When you're sloppy, you don't focus, you don't pay attention to detail and you don't do the little things right, how costly it can be. Sometimes the difference between making a play and not making a play is this much (he had his fingers an inch or so apart). Whether it's a pass that you catch or a pass that you break up or a block that you make or a tackle that you miss or whatever it is. It's going to give us a great opportunity to show these guys what they need to do to improve.

"So, we need to continue to push through and we got a lot of things we can improve on. I'm not at all disappointed in where we are. We're just going to keep on keeping on. We just have to get more players to have the right psychological disposition to be good competitors and to be able to sustain that even when things are difficult."

Saban said that McCarron played well before being lifted with his injury. Saban also said that a soaking rain late in the practice seemed to affect the passing game.

He complimented wide receiver Amari Cooper and running back/H-back Jalston Fowler for their work in the passing game. He also noted, "We played a lot of backs, and they all did some good things."

Although the first defense did well, Saban said the ones behind them "were really, really slopping – slopping tackling, sloppy assignment-wise, fitting gaps, playing responsibility football. So we've got a lot of improving to do with some of our younger players."

In answer to questions, Saban said:

Regarding the secondary:

"I thought the first group did a pretty good job, playing without probably our best corner in Deion. I thought they did a pretty good job. I think that we've got some guys with some talent and ability past that. They've just got some improving to do on how to play techniques, understanding what they're supposed to do. It's the first time out there for a couple freshmen. A couple of the freshmen had looked really good in practice and they get out there today and get a little nervous and anxious and don't do quite as well. I think we have a lot of hope that those guys can be contributors for us this year."

Regarding Amari Cooper:

"The guy's worked really hard. He's a hard worker, he's got a really good attitude, he plays fast every day in practice. When we do the summer conditioning tests when we come back, we do the cumulative points of the three tests, and he won. He had the most points of anybody on the team – and Vinnie Sunseri was second. So that means the guy's worked really hard. He's in great shape. And he's had a really good camp so far. And he had a really good day today."

Regarding young running backs in general and T.J. Yeldon specifically:

"I don't think we got a lot of movement in the offensive line today, but I was really impressed with our backs. Derrick Henry made some good runs. We didn't give T.J. a whole bunch of carries, but he was impressive when he did carry it. Altee Tenpenny ran well a few times. I don't think we got a lot of movement. We didn't play with a lot of power. Couple guys do, couple guys don't. We've got to work on that and probably get better at that. But I thought the backs were very impressive."

Regarding the defensive line:

"I thought pretty good. I thought...we obviously have to work some young guys to develop the kind of depth that we need. But I thought the first team played pretty well. After that we didn't play as well. That's the challenge that we need to continue to improve that first unit, and we really need to improve the depth and quality of our team."

Regarding the offensive line "I don't think we played with the kind of power that we need to play with. We didn't get a lot of movement up front. The second team offensive and defensive lines both were not what we'd like for them to be. They've got room to grow. They've got room to improve. I think we've got the ability to develop. We need to get the right guys in the right spots. We've got to work 'em. This scrimmage evaluation certainly tells us a little bit about who we should be working with."

Regarding Jalston Fowler:

"We think the guy who played last year was a good player. So I don't want to disrespect anybody on our team, but Jalston is a good athlete. He's a powerful guy. He's 250-something pounds. He's got running ability and good hands and a good receiver. So I do think he can make a contribution, not only as a runner but also as a guy who can play some H-back."

Regarding Special teams:

"The specialists were pretty good actually. We made a couple of long ones. Cody Mandell has had a good camp and is punting the ball well. I think we've got some young players who can contribute on special teams. If we can develop them then some of the good special teams players who are now starters wouldn't have to play as much on special teams, and I think that would help our team in the long haul. The biggest thing we need to get guys to understand is the kind of effort you have to on special teams to be a good special teams player. And how the importance of that. Because most of the guys that we recruit they didn't develop their reputation by playing on special teams. So it's important to sell them on the importance of how they can contribute to the team right now while we're developing as a player by being a good special teams player. You know I tell them all the time about guys that played nine years in the NFL. We had a guy in Cleveland that played nine years, made the Pro Bowl nine times. He didn't have a position on defense where he could play, but I kept him every year as the ninth defensive back because the guy was the best special teams player in the league. I don't think many of our young ones got their five stars and four stars by how they played on special teams, so it's something that has to be sold to them."

Stats include 11-on-11, situational drills, red area, goalline, 2-minute



PASSING LEADERS

AJ McCarron – 13 for 21, 267 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT



RUSHING LEADERS

Blake Sims – 4 rushes, 53 yards, 1 TD

Derrick Henry – 11 rushes, 38 yards, 1 TD

Tyren Jones – 5 rushes, 38 yards

T.J. Yeldon – 6 rushes, 35 yards



RECEIVING LEADERS

Amari Cooper – 4 rec., 182 yards, 3 TD

Jalston Fowler – 3 rec., 38 yards



DEFENSIVE LEADERS

C.J. Mosley - 4 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PBU

Jarrick Williams – 4 tackles

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – 3 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PBU

Ed Stinson – 3 tackles, 1 sack

Vinnie Sunseri – 3 tackles, 1 fumble recovery



SCORING

Passing Touchdowns (3): AJ McCarron – 3 (75 yards, 60 yards, 39 yards)

Rushing Touchdowns (2): Derrick Henry – 1 (3 yards); Blake Sims – 1 (30 yards)

Receiving Touchdowns (3): Amari Cooper – 3 (75 yards, 60 yards, 39 yards)

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