Tide Defense's Breaks Go Both Ways

Things evened out almost perfectly for Alabama Defensive Coordinator Joe Kines at Saturday's second fall scrimmage. For every bad thing that happened on defense, there was also something good.

The first half of the scrimmage was bad, the second half good. Kines lost DeMeco Ryans (for the day, at least), but he re-gained Freddie Roach, who has only recently resumed full-contact work. Kines saw one newcomer defensive back who was ahead of schedule, and another who is behind. One experienced safety's hamstring had healed, while another's had not.

After an Anthony Madison interception to open the scrimmage, the second-team offense racked up 98 yards in the next seven plays.

"We made a great play and got a turnover right of the bat and we thought ‘Well, I guess that's it for today' and stood around for three or four plays," Kines said. "We got together at half time and settled down. We played the whole second half down in the red zone and didn't give up anything. As far as the intensity and the tackling it was a lot better the second half."

Ryans went down 25 plays into the scrimmage with an apparent sprained ankle, the severity of which is not yet known. But Ryans's departure for the remainder of the scrimmage put Roach on the field more than expected, and he held up well in his first scrimmage action of the fall.

"Freddie played a pretty good number of snaps today," Kines said. "Our intent was to play him mostly in the goal line and short yardage situations and get him some good hard work. Freddie's missed a lot of work physically, but he's really done a nice job keeping up mentally. Hopefully that's going to translate into good opening part of the year for him."

Starting free safety Roman Harper missed out on some contact drills earlier in the week because of a tight hamstring, but he was back in full-action today with his characteristically tough play against the run. However, Charlie Peprah, who is new to the position but still the probable starter at free safety, missed today's scrimmage with a hamstring injury suffered during the first week of Alabama's fall camp.

"That's probably the biggest disappointment of the deal is that Peprah hasn't got to work," Kines said. "It's not his fault. It's not like he did anything on purpose to miss the work, but that would have really been to his advantage to be able to do that.

"Like Freddie, he's been on top of the notebook and really done a good job there, but it's just a matter of can he translate it to the field, and how quickly, when he gets back."

In the secondary, true freshman Marcus Carter picked up most of the repetitions at first-string strong safety. Kines said Carter has done well, but the safety position is responsible for making calls and adjustments on the field, a difficult jump for any true freshman.

"As a freshman, he's probably ahead of schedule," Kines said. "Some of those guys are so nervous when they first get there that they can't get anything done, but he seems to be a little more mature and Coach Ball has done a nice job with him."

Northwest Mississippi Junior College transfer Jeffrey Dukes has demonstrated the athleticism that brought him to Alabama, but the sophomore is a work in progress, and Kines is hoping to bring him along quickly.

"He's coming along. We're trying to get him a lot of work," Kines said. "He's new to the system so that bothers him a little bit. He needs to pick it up and hopefully he will."

If anything tipped the scales, making the good outweigh the bad, it was the play of the defensive line, which was expected to be a liability for the Tide.

"Coach Wyatt and Coach Randolph have done a good job," Kines sad. "It hasn't been a glaring weakness. Their situation has been pretty much under control."

"Early in the year we worried about the line. There are a few young guys who haven't played the position before. We kind of moved them around and they took to it during two-a-days and hopefully have made some improvement."

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