Scrimmage Marks "A Little Step"

Alabama's first extended scrimmage of spring football practice Saturday included a number of bright spots. The Crimson Tide went to Bryant-Denny Stadium for a workout of about two hours. The 106-play scrimmage did not include the top two quarterbacks in contact situations, but otherwise had very competitive elements.

Alabama Head Football Coach Mike Shula said, "The main thing I'm pleased about is that the mindset around here has improved. The guys have a great look in their eyes. They want to be good. We need to keep pressing to be more consistent."

Shula said, "We got a lot done in two hours. There was a lot of good individual effort. Our blitz was able to get to the quarterback, but on offense we were able to break some tackles. (As is always the case when a team is playing itself, the blitz getting to the quarterback also means the offense is not preventing the blitz from reaching the quarterback and the offense breaking tackles means the defense is not always finishing the tackle.) I look at this as a little step today. We still have a lot of work to do."

The scrimmage had mostly the first offense against the first defense and the second offense against the second defense. There were also periods in which the top two quarterbacks from last season, Brodie Croyle and Spencer Pennington–who were held out of scrimmage work–conducted seven-on-seven drills (backs and receivers against a defense of linebackers and secondary).

The number one quarterback in scrimmage work was transfer Marc Guillon. The upcoming sophomore, who came from Miami prior to last season, completed 14 of 27 passes for 175 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Shula said, "Marc Guillon for the most part was okay. He's gotten better from Day One and it was good to see him perform in the scrimmage."

Guillon said, "I'd give myself about a B. I missed some reads and there were some passes I'd like to have back. But the defense was good. I felt a little rusty, but it felt great to be out there." Guillon hit his first four attempts in leading the offense to a touchdown on its first possession, a 10-yard Guillon to Brandon Brooks score. He also connected with Tyrone Prothro on a 35-yard touchdown pass.

Michael Machen also had two touchdown passes, connecting with walk-on candidates. He had a nine-yard scoring pass to tight end Rusty Hill and 32-yard throw to wide receiver Jake Collins. Machen completed eight of 21 passes for 111 yards. He suffered two interceptions, one by Thurman Ward and one by Ramzee Robinson. Robinson also had three tackles, a tackle for loss, and blocked a 28-yard field goal effort by Mike McLaughlin.

McLaughlin kicked two extra points. Brian Bostick was the first placekicker and also made two extra points. He missed a 46-yard field goal attempt. The only other kicking in the scrimmage was a punting period. Bo Freelend had punts of 48 and 38 yards, best of the kickers. David Sears handled deep snaps and Alex Fox was holder on placekicks. Brandon Brooks, Tyrone Prothro, and Matt Caddell were the three punt return candidates.

While Shula said that Prothro (two catches, 42 yards), Caddell (2-18), and Brooks (3-68) continue to be the top receivers, he was also impressed with some others in the scrimmage. Collins had three catches for 56 yards and Matt Miller three for 40 yards.

Ray Hudson was the top rusher with eight carries for 40 yards. Kennedy Darby had 11 for 31, Nic Luke 10 for 21, and Tim Castille 5 for 22.

Shula said, "The negatives were that we had too many turnovers and bad snaps (three by center J.B. Closner over the heads of quarterbacks in shotgun formation) and we've got to do a better job of tackling."

On defense, Shula mentioned the pass rushing of end Mark Anderson and the overall play of cornerback Ramzee Robinson. "Ramzee has come to play every day," the coach said.

Safety Roman Harper and linebackers Juwan Garth and Demarcus Waldrop had seven tackles each. Mark Anderson had two fumble recoveries, one of which he returned 31 yards for a touchdown.

Of interest next week will be depth chart changes (if any). The starters on offense in addition to Guillon were tailback Ray Hudson, fullback Tim Castille, wide receivers Tyrone Prothro and Matt Caddell, tackles Kyle Tatum and Chris Capps, guards Kevin Mathis and Danny Martz, and center J.B. Closner. Bama's three scholarshipped tight ends (Greg McLain, who is out all spring, and David Cavan and Clint Johnston) were all held out of the contact work and Barrett Earnest, Will Denniston and Rusty Hill handled the duties. Defensive first teamers did not include linebacker DeMeco Ryans, out with an ankle sprain. Mark Anderson and Todd Bates were the ends, Anthony Bryant and Jeremy Clark the tackles, Freddie Roach middle linebacker, Juwan Garth and Demarcus Waldrop outside linebackers, Charlie Peprah and Anthony Madison cornerbacks, Roman Harper safety, and Carlos Andrews strong safety.

The future of former baseball player Scoop McDowell, a freshman walk-on wide receiver candidate, might also be known. McDowell missed work this week "for personal reasons," sometimes the per-announcement of a defection.

Saturday's scrimmage was Bama's ninth of 15 practices this spring. The Tide will return to the practice field Tuesday. Spring practice ends with the A-Day Game Saturday, March 20, at 2:30 p.m. CST at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

BamaMag Top Stories