Following Alabama’s first scrimmage of spring practice last Saturday, Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban gave a few statistics that provided a glimpse of what had happened at Bryant-Denny Stadium. He said that quarterback Jalen Hurts completed over 50 per cent of his passes with four touchdowns. He said wide receiver Calvin Ridley had “like eight catches” and T.J. Simmons seven.
Senior Alabama safety Hootie Jones didn’t provide any numbers, but had a more graphic description of the scrimmage. “The quarterbacks were very good to see, very competitive and putting their guys in great positions,” he said.
“I mean, honestly, the defense really got tore up by the quarterbacks.”
Jones said it was a “great scrimmage, everyone out there competing,” and that Hurts “is passing the ball a lot better.” The performance of the defense, though, was disappointing.
“We were upset,” he said. “No defense wants to get tore up by an offense. But we’re learning from it, and that means we have to go out there and work harder.”
Jones, 6-2, 215, didn’t have an argument for Saban’s contention that the secondary “did not respect the deep part of the field.”
The senior safety said the defense probably didn’t expect the passing attack it faced. “The receivers played real good and the quarterbacks were putting them in good position and putting the ball on the money,” he said. “It was like there was nothing we could do. We were playing lazy and they were tearing us up, killing the defense. I can’t sugarcoat it.”
The defense will need to bounce back “by playing faster,” Jones said. “We were playing lazy and not respecting our keys.
"We just really have to be consistent and play with great poise. We just have to go out there and ball, do what we've been doing and do what Coach Saban says. We need effort. Go out there and play pretty physical."
Jones has thought about his upcoming senior season, his last shot. “I’ve always wanted to help out,” he said, “but now it’s like I need to help out. I’m a veteran now.”
Last year Jones played primarily at the “Money” position, the Alabama nomenclature for the dime back. He had 15 solo tackles and five assists, broke up five passes, and forced a fumble in kickoff coverage.
When spring practice started, last year’s safety, Minkah Fitzpatrick, was moved to cornerback. But for the past week, Fitzpatrick has moved back to the safety position where Jones competes. Fitzpatrick may stay at safety because of the shift of Trevon Diggs from wide receiver to cornerback.
Jones said, “He’s developing into a real good corner. I didn't expect that when he first started playing corner, but he's developed into a real good corner. He's starting to play big boy football."