Squad gets first scrimmage under its belt

Given that the offense and defense both belong to the same team, scrimmage results are a decidedly double-edged sword. But new Tide Head Coach Mike Shula seemed generally pleased following Monday's effort.

"The first offense moved the ball pretty well," Mike Shula said afterwards. "It's good to get the ball into the endzone, and we did that a couple of times."

As Shula explained, the workout was a structured scrimmage, where the ball was placed at given points on the field with set plays scripted in advance. The first half of the scrimmage was completely "live," with full tackling. The second section was live except for tackling. "The goal was to get a feel for which guys came to play," Shula said.

Quarterback Brodie Croyle had a solid day, completing 10-of-18 passes for 150 yards and three touchdowns. Shula said his sophomore QB was picking up the offense faster than anyone else. He went on to term Croyle's performance as "good but not great. He needs to sometimes throw the ball away, but he didn't try to force it too much, and he was accurate."

Backup quarterback Spencer Pennington completed 6-of-15 passes for 64 yards. Brandon Avalos was 3-of-6 for 16 yards. Mike Machen was 1-of-3 for 10 yards. "Spencer was good at times," Shula said. "The biggest thing with him is he needs to be more consistent."

Shula noted that several players that the coaches were hoping would have good days stood out, including tailback Shaud Williams, Croyle, receiver Antonio Carter and defensive tackle Anthony Bryant.

Williams led all rushers with 40 yards on nine carries, scoring twice. He also had two receptions for 13 yards. Carter caught three passes for 36 yards. Bryant had two tackles, one quarterback sack and one stop behind the line of scrimmage. "Some of our older guys stepped up," Shula said.

Most of the scrimmage consisted of 1s versus 2s, with the first offense working against the second defense and vice versa. Shula said the first units did compete for "about 10 plays" in goal-line work.

Seniors Triandos Luke and Zach Fletcher both got loose for one long catch, Luke's for 48 yards and a touchdown and Fletcher's for 31 yards. Tight end Clint Johnston had two catches for 16 yards and a touchdown. Fullback Greg McLain got loose on the goal line for a four-yard catch and score.

"Triandos has been very consistent," Shula said. "He has a good idea of what we're trying to do on offense. He manages to be in the right place and come up with the big plays."

Special teams also got plenty of work, with placekickers Kyle Robinson and Brian Bostick having good days. Robinson was 4-for-4 with a long of 47 yards. Bostick was also perfect on three kicks, his longest was also 47 yards. "Our kickers did a nice job," Shula said.

On defense two backup ends took advantage of Antwan Odom's absence to impress their head coach. True freshman Wallace Gilberry had four tackles, one for a loss and two sacks. Sophomore end Mark Anderson totaled three tackles and one sack.

Second-year players Demeco Ryans and Juwan Garth are battling for the starting job at weakside linebacker. Ryans totaled five stops, one for a loss. Garth used his speed to good effect, racking up seven tackles to lead the squad and one fumble recovery.

"We've got good competition at linebacker," Shula said. "All those guys will play. It's good to have depth at the position."

Scrimmage Notes

  • Tight end David Cavan did not play. Depending on the prognosis, he could be forced to sit out several weeks. Shula had praise for both Clint Johnston and Donald Clarke in his absence.
  • True freshman lineman Travis West is now working at center. Shula noted his good play.
  • Alabama is looking for one true freshman linebacker to fill out the depth chart. Shula praised Terrence Jones for his effort.
  • Senior middle linebacker Derrick Pope turned in the most spectacular defensive play. In goal-line work, he dodged a would-be blocker and ran down Shaud Williams to stop him short of the endzone.
  • Strong safety Roman Harper came in for praise from Shula.
  • Punter Jeff Aul and placekicker Brian Bostick are kicking off for the Tide. Shula said both had their best day yet.
  • Bo Freeland has edged ahead in the battle for punter.
  • There were no punt returns, but redshirt freshman Ramzee Robinson stood out on kickoff returns.

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