Domination By Defense

It was no surprise that most of those drawing praise for performance in Alabama's Saturday football scrimmage were defensive players. Even to the unpracticed eye the defense dominated Bama's first scrimmage of spring practice at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Following a good practice Tuesday, Bama will return to the stadium for another scrimmage Thursday.

The first player Alabama Coach Mike Shula mentioned as having done well in Saturday's scrimmage was offensive right tackle Kyle Tatum. And the Bama head man said that some other offensive linemen had done well. But he said that "a lot of guys on defense" were standouts.

He said linebacker Terrence Jones "has had a nice camp and has a pretty good hold" on the strongside linebacker spot vacated by All-America DeMeco Ryans. Shula said that safety Jeffrey Dukes had another good practice. "He came back and had a good practice after we had mentioned his name quite a bit in the early practices," Shula said. He said that middle linebacker Matt Collins "has been pretty steady."

One notable promotion on Tuesday was linebacker Demarcus Waldrop wearing the crimson jersey reserved for first team players. Waldrop, who Shula said could play both at weakside linebacker and strongside linebacker, had earned the promotion with "a good camp. We feel he's going to be one of those gus who even if he's not a starter is going to play a lot." Juwan Simpson continues as first team at weakside linebacker.

Shula said the biggest surprise of the spring has been running back Roy Upchurch, and added that Jimmy Johns has also done well at the position. But both continue behind Kenneth Darby, who has returned to apparent full speed.

Shula has also been pleased with Simeon Castille at cornerback.

And, he said, defensive tackle J.P. Adams "had a good scrimmage. He's done a good job all spring. He's in the mix with Dominic Lee to be a starter."

Back-up center Evan Cardwell re-injured an ankle in Tuesday's practice and Shula did not know if he would be ready to go in Thursday's scrimmage. He said that fullback Baron Huber, who injured a knee last week, and tight end Travis McCall, who is out with an ankle injury, would not return this week. Huber had an MRI that Shula said was negative, but said the knee was swollen.

One player trying to get back from an early spring injury and also catch up to his teammates in every aspect of football is wide receiver Nikita Stover. Stover reported in January and then suffered a strained groin early in spring training. He is working with the third offensive unit. Shula said, "He's not 100 per cent yet. He has to get used to the way we play here. It's understandable that he is behind. He needs to spend some time with his (play)book. But he has good hands. I think he had his first dropped pass of the spring today."

Shula said the team is having a scrimmage Thursday in hopes of keeping the players focus on football. The University spring break begins after classes Friday. "That's why we didn't wait until Friday to scrimmge," Shula said.

Because of The University calendar, spring practice is being interrupted by spring break. The team will return on March 27 to condition for three final practices–the last the A-Day Game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, April 1, in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

"Hopefully we'll have a lot of good work on Thursday," Shula said.

The team worked out for just over two hours Tuesday in full pads as Bama completed its 11th of 15 spring practice sessions.

"I thought it was a good practice overall, good effort and much better execution," said Shula. "We did a little ‘move the ball' (scrimmage) at the end. I thought (quarterback) John Parker Wilson had a good day and the offensive line did a better job today."

Wednesday is "Pro Day," in which potential professional football prospects (not current Tiders) will work out for pro scouts at The University.

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