While Brodie Croyle's comeback from a slow start was good, even better was the comeback of Kenneth Darby, who finished up the scrimmage with 40 rushing yards and a touchdown on six attempts, signaling a near-100 percent return from sports hernia surgery in the spring.
"He looks pretty good to me. And he feels good, that's what's most important," Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said after the scrimmage.
Alabama Running backs coach Sparky Woods said Darby gained confidence from his ability to go full speed today. It was the first time he had been tackled since having the surgery.
"I think the only question is if that muscle will stay together when people start slinging on him," Woods said. "I think he feels great, and he looks sharp, but the first time he'd been tackled was today. We'll see it on film and that will give him some confidence."
Shula lamented the squad's slow start. "Probably the biggest negatives is that there were some mental mistakes – guys getting lined up right, one time we had 10 guys on the field defensively, and some penalties," Shula said. "The ball was on the ground with the second group too much, which we can't have."
"It was hot. Some of the younger guys, first time in the stadium and it was a little bit hot. I think that affected them overall. As far as that goes, I wasn't pleased personally with that part of it. We have to be a little better, have a little more mental toughness in that area."
But Shula also said his team is "light years" head of where they have been the past two years. "The offensive line started slow but I think they got better as we went along in the scrimmage. Defensively I think the returning starters all played pretty well," he said.
The first big play of the day was provided by the second-team offense on a third-and-10 play from the 30-yard line. John Parker Wilson escaped the pocket right and sailed a pass complete to a leaping Will Oakley at the right sideline, who outbattled cornerback Simeon Castille for the ball for a 32-yard gain.
Oakley had two catches for 42 yards before straining his knee, and Wilson finished 10-of-19 with one interception at the end of the first half.
Wilson connected a pass with an old high school teammate Monday. Unfortunately, it was on Wilson's only interception of the day with safety Cory Reamer making the play.
"It was poor judgement," Shula said of the interception play. "It's one of those things that's a judgment call by a young quarterback and he'll learn from that, but he made some really good plays. He's been very accurate the last couple of days. Today was real good except for one play."
The first-team offense provided a definition of slow-start in the first three series'. Croyle's first pass was batted incomplete at the line of scrimmage by Matt Collins, and the next two plays were overthrows intended for DJ Hall.
"I thought he was maybe a little bit greedy early trying to make a couple things happen down the field, but really was pretty accurate after that," Shula said.
The second offensive series consisted of three rush attempts for Kenneth Darby. Darby picked up six yards on first down and three on second down, but the second team defense stifled the third down attempt.
On the third series a Croyle pass to Nick Walker was erased due to a holding penalty.
Croyle got into a groove in his second stint on the field, piling up over 60 percent of his passing yardage in a four-play span.
Croyle got into a groove after watching the second-team offense take their turn on the field. He connected on two 10-yard out-routes to begin the fourth series, one to DJ Hall and one to Matt Caddell, before catching lightning in a bottle.
On a third-and-five play from the 28, Croyle connected with Prothro for a 28-yard touchdown. On the next play from scrimmage with the ball re-spotted on the 32, Croyle noticed the defense was missing a right-side cornerback, so he fired to Hall again, who raced 68 yards for a cheap touchdown.
Once the ball was reset at the 32 again, Croyle hit Zeke Knight for 34 yards on a first-down play, and found Prothro over the middle on the next play for 34 more yards and another touchdown to complete the sequence.
"We hit some big balls, but we missed some. If we want to be a big-time offense he have to hit them all," Offensive Coordinator Dave Rader said.
I thought Marc Guillon did a nice job, too. He had I think at least one or maybe to dropped balls. But mentally, I think he's doing a good job and finding the right receivers.
Marc Guillon finished the day 5-for-8 for 20 yards.
"I thought Marc Guillon did a nice job, too," Shula said. "He had I think at least one or maybe to dropped balls. But mentally, I think he's doing a good job and finding the right receivers."
Shula said that fullback/halfback Tim Castille is "real close" to being ready to participate fully in 11-on-11 team periods. He has had an increased practice load throughout the past week.
"We didn't want his first day to be in a live scrimmage. We'll probably get him going and he's raring to go," Shula said. "We'll probably pick those repetitions up more as the week goes on if he continues to feel good."
Shula said that leading rusher Theo Townsend (6 att., 80 yards, 67-yard long) has been "probably one of our hardest workers all throughout camp, so we're going to try to find a place for him whether it's running the ball or on special teams."
Shula was impressed by all three punters in position for that spot at Monday's scrimmage. Jeremy Schatz, Jeff Aul and P.J. Fitzgerald all had good days punting. Aul had the most consistently strong leg in warm-ups.
Shula said he hoped to have all those players back bad the next scrimmage on Saturday at latest.
SCRIMMAGE STATS (108 Snaps)
Theo Townsend 6-80, TD, Glen Coffee (10-53) Kenneth Darby (6-40, TD), Roy Upchurch (5-22), Aaron Johns (9-2) Le'Ron McClain (1-2), Jimmy Johns (1-1), Brandon Brooks (1-0), Brodie Croyle (1-minus 4), Jimmy Barnes (1-minus 9), John Parker Wilson (3-minus 16)
Croyle (13-20-266, 5 TD), Wilson (10-19-143, INT), Marc Guillon (5-8-20), J.Johns (1-1-2), Barnes (1-0)
DJ Hall (3-107, 2TD), Zeke Knight (3-85, TD), Tyrone Prothro (2-62, 2 TD), Will Oakley (2-42), Theo Townsend (1-22), Matt Caddell (2-18) , Brandon Brooks (2-18) , Marcus McKnight (1-18) , Walker (2-15), Will Dennistion (4-11), Glen Coffee (2-9), Roy Upchurch (1-4), Matt Miller (1-3), Travis McCall (1-2), Evan Cardwell (1-0)
Jamie Christensen 2-3 (19, 46)
Ryan Saxby 1-2 (39)
DEFENSIVE STATS Matt Collins (6 tackles, FR, PBU), Marcus Carter (5 tackles), Roman Harper (5 tackles, sack), Simeon Castille (4 tackles, PBU), Jake Wingo (4 tackles), Travis Robinsion (4 tackles, PBU), Demarcus Waldrop (4 tackles), Rudy Griffin (4 tackles, TFL, sack), Juwan Simpson (3 tackles, sack), Eryk Anders (3 tackles), Jeffrey Dukes (3 tackles), Marcel Stamps (3 tackles), Justin Britt (3 tackles, TFL, FR), Zach Schreiber (2 tackles), Aaron McDaniel (2 tackles, FR), Freddie Roach (2 tackles), Reamer (2 tackles, INT), Lionel Mitchell (2 tackles), Chris Keys (2 tackles, PBU), Byron Walton (2 tackles), Stephen Kulback (2 tackles), Keith Saunders (2 tackles, TFL), Brandon Deaderick (tackle, sack), Lorenzon Washington (tackle, 2 FF, FR), Justin Johnson (tackle), Terrence Jones (tackle), Bobby Greenwood (tackle), DeMeco Ryans (tackle, TFL, FF), Anthony Madison (tackle), J.P. Adams (tackle), Prince Hall (tackle), Bryan Kilpatrick (tackle), Baron Huber (tackle), Wallace Gilberry (2 QBH)