Croyle Sparks Tide's First Scrimmage

Brodie Croyle completed 19 of 26 pass attempts for 281 yards and five touchdowns Monday, wowing hundreds of fans in attendence at Bryant-Denny Stadium for the Tide's first scrimmage. He threw one interception that was batted at the line before picked off by DeMeco Ryans. Croyle's worst decision of the day was when he tried to chase Ryans down and tackle him as he headed for the end zone. Ryans stiff-armed Croyle to the ground amid screeching whistles and oohing fans.

"Brodie was pretty good for most of the day, with just a couple of bad decisions that you can't have at his position," Shula said. "Overall, he's so much more comfortable with our offense. Physically, he's in better shape and his arm is stronger."

Croyle started by missing on three of his first four pass attempts, then hit on 14 of his next 15 attempts, including a magnificent throw-and-catch to a fully laid out Tyrone Prothro good for a 37-yard touchdown. Croyle jetted to Birmingham after talking to the media to welcome a new nephew into the world.

"Seeing the things we're doing right and seeing what we're doing wrong, then seeing them all come together (today) makes you feel really good about your season," Croyle said. "I felt good today. I've been seeing things really well all camp, and it came over into today maybe even a little more so I feel really good after today."

Prothro caught four passes for 75 yards on the day, but true freshman D.J. Hall hauled in four passes for 84 yards, including two touchdowns. Matt Caddell added four catches for 76 yards and a score.

"The pass protection from the offensive line has been pretty good," Shula said. "We definitely need work on third down, though. Kyle Tatum needs as many reps as he can get on pass protection. All those guys up front do. That's such a critical down and you have to have good protection and execute there."

"Overall, I thought the effort was real good," Head Coach Mike Shula said. "Our kids are getting in pretty good shape. Injuries are a little bit of a concern. We've got to get those guys back, and most of those guys should be back fairly soon. We shortened up our scrimmage because of that."

The running game was limited by the amount of passing plays, and Kenneth Darby led all rushers with 25 yards on six carries. Ray Hudson added 10 yards on six carries and Tim Castille had 10 yards on six carries. Castille score three touchdowns in goal line situations, lined up as the halfback behind fullback Le'Ron McClain. Offensive Coordinator Dave Rader said he was more concerned about getting all the squad's running plays on video tape than trying to successfully rush against the defense.

There were approximately 95 plays in the scrimmage, but only a handfull featured first-string offense versus first string defense. Shula said the injuries limited that type of work in the scrimmage.

"It's a fine line to decide how much to go because we've got to get them ready for the season and once we feel like they're ready we've got to make sure they're fresh and ready for the opener," he said.

Defensively, Terrence Jones stood out, racking up six tackles while playing mostly against the first-string offense. Jones had three tackles-for-loss, one sack, one pass break and one interception. "I think Terrence Jones has had a great camp. He adds speed to our defense. Simeon stille, he's going to be a good player and he's gotten better each week. The thing I like about him is if he gets beat on one play he doesn't lose confidence in himself," Shula said.

DeMeco Ryans also had six tackles to lead the first-string defense, and added two stops for loss and the interception of Croyle.

"Our first defense, I don't remember them executing as well last year as they did today," Shula said. "I don't know if that's because second offense. The thing I saw is those guys were swarming the ball and playing with a lot of confidence."

Shula said there is plenty of things that will need to be corrected between now and the Tide's next scrimmage on Saturday. Specifically, pre-snap penalties and getting his young receivers line up properly. Shula also said he wants to see his offense make better decisions in the plus territory (beyond the 50-yard line going in.)

"I think we had two turnovers and then we took a sack on one to get out of field goal range," he said. "We had too many plays down there. That's such critical area."

The second string offense had its woes against the first-team defense. Spencer Pennington completed five of 11 passes for 37 yards, an interception and a touchdown, while Marc Guillon was one of four for one yard. There were several exchange problems between back-up center Travis West and the quarterbacks.

"We're getting on those guys, but we need to find another center," Shula said. "We think eventually that Travis West is going to be a good football player. He was injured last year and he hasn't had that much experience. I think eventually he's going to be a good player, but we're going to look for some other guys, too."

Shula also commended the work of tight end Clint Johnston. "Clint Johnston is light years ahead of where he was last year. We all these other guys, but he's probably been one of the most improved guys. Even from the spring because he's been hurt. He looks like a different guy out there."

Shula said that he didn't necessarily see what he was hoping out of back-ups Spencer Pennington and Marc Guillon. "I think a little bit of it is that we're beat up with the second offensive line," he said. "That's a position that if things are going bad around you, you still have to be able to sit in there and make the right decisions. That's what we look at from them. If they can do it under those circumstances, they can."

Scrimmage Stats: Passing (comp-att-yards): Brodie Croyle 19-26-281, 5 TD, INT; Spencer Pennington 5-11-37, TD, INT; Marc Guillon 1-4-1

Rushing (att-yards): Kenneth Darby 6-25; Ray Hudson 6-10; Tim Castille 6-10, 3 TD; Le'Ron McClain 1-4; Aaron Johns 6-(-17)

Receiving (rec-yards): D.J. Hall 4-84, 2 TD; Matt Caddell 4-76, TD; Tyrone Prothro 4-75, TD; Brandon Brooks 2-16; McClain 2-17, TD; Clint Johnston 2-14; Tim Castille 2-22; David Cavan 1-6; Hudson 1-(-2); Darby 1(-1)

Defense: Terrence Jones 6 tackles, 3 TFL, Sack, PBU, INT; DeMeco Ryans 6 tackles, 2 TFL, INT; Roman Harper 4 tackles, TFL, Sack; Travis Robinson 5 tackles, 3TFL, sack; Simeon Castille 4 tackles, QBH (hurry); Wallace Gilberry 4 tackles, TFL; Juke King 4 tackles, TFL, sack

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