Defense Turned Up Heat

There were fewer highs and more lows for the Alabama offense, but the Tide defense stayed steady and solid in 100-plus degree heat index weather at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Wallace Gilberry set the tone for the first-team defense early, applying pressure to John Parker Wilson and forcing him to throw incomplete on a third-and-four play during the second series of the scrimmage.

Simeon Castille followed up on the next series with a timely reaction on a Wilson sideline pass attempt, breaking up the would-be first down completion on a second-and-seven play.

The first string defense yielded nothing in the opening 10-play allotment, forcing the second offensive unit three-and-out three consecutive times and then forcing them off the field after a Gilberry sack of Wilson for a loss of about 13 yards on the 10th play.

Gilberry had a phenomenal day with six tackles, three sacks and one credited quarterback hurry, and the first team defense held the second offense to a net minus three yards in the early sequence.

Last week, the first-team offense started slowly with quarterback Brodie Croyle missing his first five passes before finishing red-hot. Saturday's scrimmage was the opposite, as Croyle connected with Matt Caddell for 11 yards on his first attempt and hit Tyrone Prothro for a 20 yarder and a 14 yarder later in the opening series.

The offense picked up 44 yards on the first series but fizzled out at the 24-yard line where Ryan Saxby missed a 43-yard field goal attempt.

Croyle ended the day 16-of-34 passing for 137 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a sub-par performance. Croyle's 20-yarder to Prothro was the longest pass play of the scrimmage.

On the last play of the 10-play opening sequence for the offense, Lionel Mitchell separated receiver Keith Brown from a Croyle pass with a big hit. That began a big day for Mitchell, who had 2 pass break-ups, two tackles and an interception that was headed for a 60-yard touchdown return when whistles blew the play dead.

Mitchell set Croyle up for his first interception in the two fall scrimmages, reading the short route and jumping the pass at the perfect time.

Justin Britt and Jeremy Clark appear locked in a battle for a the starting defensive tackle spot alongside Rudy Griffin, and instead of playing tentative and trying to avoid mistakes, both men are making plays to try to win the position.

Clark applied the pressure on Marc Guillon forcing him into an ill-advised pass that was almost intercepted by Cory Reamer early in the scrimmage. Britt was credited with three tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery after beginning the scrimmage working with the first-string defense.

Alabama's newest running back, converted quarterback Jimmy Johns, only netted six yards on seven carries Saturday, but he had an impressive six-yard run fending of Keith Saunders and another defender at the line of scrimmage and shooting ahead for a positive play.

Alabama's oldest running back, tailback Kenneth Darby, showed a burst on his 33-yard run off the left side before being angled out by Justin Ballard. Darby's run was the long offensive play of the day.

Keith Brown was back on the field after missing the first scrimmage. He did not have a catch officially, but had perhaps the most impressive play when he leaped and grabbed a 42-yard Brodie Croyle pass over tight coverage landing just outside the goal line. The acrobatic catch was nullified due to a holding penalty on the offensive line.

In a Prattville vs. Prattville alumni match-up, left defensive end Bobby Greenwood shed offensive tackle Kyle Tatum and got to quarterback Brodie Croyle for a sack. Defensive coordinator Joe Kines said Greenwood has been a step ahead of his fellow freshman defensive linemen.

Roy Upchurch showed what he is capable of doing as he broke tackles and made moves on a 25-yard touchdown run on a third-and-one play. Upchurch led the scrimmage in yards per carry (6.7), finishing with 40 yards on six carries.

Brodie Croyle said it was a bad day, but it was a sweet throw and catch from the 15-yard line when Tyrone Prothro split wide left, faked a slant to the middle of the field and went to the corner to haul in a perfect pass from Croyle for the touchdown.

The final offensive numbers weren't pretty. Quarterbacks completed 29-of-60 pass attempts (48.3 percent) for 208 yards, just 3 yards per pass attempt.

The rushing total was no better – 83 net yards (minus 51 yards in sacks included) on 37 attempts for a measley 2.24 yards per rush attempt.

The good news for the offense? It's one scrimmage and one day.

"I feel the same (about our offense) as I did this morning," Croyle said. "We had a bad day and that happens."

With two weeks until opening kickoff against Middle Tennessee, the offense gets its next chance in scrimmage form on Tuesday afternoon.


Passing (Comp-Att-Yds): Brodie Croyle (16-34-137, INT, TD); John Parker Wilson (6-14-26, INT); Marc Guillon (5-9-25); Jimmy Barnes (2-3-20)

Rushing (Att-Yds): Glen Coffee (9-40); Roy Upchurch (6-40); Kenneth Darby (3-36); Jimmy Johns (7-6); Tim Castille (3-12); Marc Guillon (3-minus 5); Brodie Croyle (3-minus 21); John Parker Wilson (3-minus 25)

Receiving (Rec.-Yds): DJ Hall (6-41); Tyrone Prothro (4-60, TD); Roy Upchurch (3-11); Kyle Bennett (3-5); Tim Castille (2-8); Marcus McKnight (2-17); Will Oakley (1-7); Matt Caddell (1-12); Matt Miller (1-3); Glen Coffee (1-11); Zeke Knight (1-7); Charles Hoke (1-6); Danny Barger (1-13); Greg McLain (1-6); Kenneth Darby (1-3)

Field Goals: Jamie Christensen (3-3; 46, 34, 36); Ryan Saxby (2-3; made 22, 31; missed 43)

Defensive Stats: Simeon Castille (2 tackles, PBU); Jeffrey Dukes (1 tackle, TFL); Marcel Stamps (2 tackles, TFL); Freddie Roach (2 tackles, TFL); Anthony Madison (6 tackles); Cory Reamer (2 PBU); Lionel Mitchell (2 tackles, INT, 2 PBU); Chris Rogers (5 tackles); Marcus Carter (4 tackles); Aaron McDaniel (3 tackles); Bryan Kilpatrick (4 tackles, TFL, PBU); Justin Johnson (4 tackles, sack); DeMeco Ryans (3 tackles, TFL); Justin Britt (3 tackles, sack, FR); Bobby Greenwood (2 tackles, TFL); Prince Hall (2 tackles 2 QBH); Justin Ballard (2 tackles, QBH); Juwan Simpson (2 tackles); Demarcus Waldrop (2 tackles); Zach Schreiber (2 tackles); Marcel Stamps (2 tackles, TFL); Terrence Jones (tackle, sack, INT, QBH); J.P. Adams (tackle, sack); Dominic Lee (tackle, sack); Stephen Kulback (tackle); Keith Saunders (tackle); Rudy Griffin (tackle); Eryk Anders (tackle); Jeremy Clark (2 QBH)

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