Tide Shows Improvement

Alabama had its second scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday as the Crimson Tide prepares for its final week of spring training and next Saturday's A-Day Game. The 92-play scrimmage was interspersed with seven-on-seven passing drills and some kicking game situations.

"I think we got a little bit better today," Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said. "We had guys doing a better job of execution and being a little more consistent. Overall I thought it was good day. We have three days left, and one of them is A-Day, so we hope to have a good week."

Alabama is scheduled to practice on Tuesday and Thursday of next week, with the A-Day game scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 20.

The Tide coach noted, "We put the defense in some situations where they had to hold their ground with the offense having good field position; and we put offense backed up a little bit. Mental toughness is what we're looking for, when someone makes a play against you, to come back and keep your poise and keep your focus in all three phases (of the game)."

Shula said, "The defense did well early, particularly in tackling. But it's not a true situation because we would have the offense run 10 straight plays. Even when the defense held on what would normally be a three-and-out, they had to keep going. And then the offense got it going. We were looking for someone on offense to take charge when the defense was playing well and we were looking for someone to make a stop when the offense was going. We didn't have the leadership we need in those situations. We're looking for guys to stand up. We're looking for effort, for guys finishing plays, and for being more consistent."

Sophomore transfer Marc Guillon got the majority of work at quarterback for the second consecutive scrimmage. Returning first and second team quarterbacks, juniors Brodie Croyle and Spencer Pennington, continue to be held out of contact drills after having undergone off-season shoulder surgeries. While Croyle and Pennington were limited to non-contact seven-on-seven passing drills, Guillon completed 22-of-37 passes for 272 yards, two touchdowns with one interception. Michael Machen was 1-of-5 passing for eight yards and one interception.

Guillon's primary target was Tyrone Prothro, who had eight receptions for 138 yards and two scores. One of those passes from Guillon was a quick pass that Prothro turned into a 52-yard touchdown scamper. Brandon Brooks caught two passes for 66 yards and Matt Caddell two nice catches, although for only 16 yards.

Le'Ron McClain was the leading rusher with 38 yards on six carries with one touchdown, while Ray Hudson had six rushes for 35 yards. Tim Castille ran nine times for 29 yards, Nic Luke had five carries for 28 yards and Brandon McAway had three rushes for 27 yards.

The scrimmage featured Alabama's "big backfield" much of the day, Castille at tailback and McClain at fullback.

Defensively, Charlie Peprah was top tackler with six stops. Peprah, who has spent the last week at strong safety after having started at left cornerback last fall, also broke up a pass. Ramzee Robinson, who has taken over at left cornerback and who has had a very good spring, had another good practice with four tackles and one official interception. Robinson had another interception nullified by the "quick whistle." In scrimmage work, officials blow the play dead if the quarterback is touched, which saved one interception by Robinson.

Juwan Garth had five tackes (one for loss) and one break-up. Demarcus Waldrop, Thurman Ward, Anthony Madison, and Rudy Griffin all had four tackles. Garth, Ward and Griffin all urned in one tackle for loss, while Waldrop joined Robinson with an interception. Fumble recoveries were made by walk-on defensive tackles J.P. Adams and Allen Long and defensive end Chris Harris.

The scrimmage ended with Michael Ziifle drilling a 40-yard field goal. In punting work, both Brandon Brooks and Matt Caddell had long returns. Returning starting punter Bo Freelend made only one kick, a 55-yarder that was fair caught.

One plus was that there were no bad snaps in spread formation. A week earlier there had been four snaps over the quarterback's head. Returning starter J.B. Closner and converted defensive tackle Taylor Britt are handling the center position, although guard Evan Mathis got a little work at center in special shotgun drills.

Although statistics weren't kept in the seven-on-seven work, wide receiver Matt Miller, who had a good scrimmage last week, had several nice grabs, including touchdown catches from both Croyle and Pennington.

Tight end Clint Johnston has not been participating in contact drills this spring because of a neck injury, but Johnston did work in the seven-on-seven periods and had a nice catch and run.

Safety Roman Harper was held out of the scrimmage with what Shula said was a minor injury.


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