Grades Are In

Alabama Coach Mike Shula isn't one to reveal all. But following Tuesday morning's Crimson Tide workout, Shula did list some players who had done well in Monday's scrimmage. Bama was out for a couple of hours in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts Tuesday after Monday afternoon's 116-play scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Shula's comments indicated that a number of Alabama players did well based on examination of tapes by Crimson Tide assistant coaches. He didn't bother mentioning the likes of quarterback John Parker Wilson or halfback Terry Grant and others who obviously performed well.

Offensive linemen drawing praise included left tackles Chris Capps (who had a few snaps at right tackle late in the scrimmage) and Andre Smith, center Antoine Caldwell, left guard Justin Britt, and right guard Marlon Davis.

He also listed tight end Travis McCall.

On defense, Shula named cornerbacks Ramzee Robinson and Chris Rogers and safeties Marcus Carter and Jeffrey Dukes.

The Tide coach said, "Terrence Jones (strongside linebacker) probably did the best job at linebacker." He added that "Matt Collins and Prince Hall are interesting (at middle linebacker). Matt is probably a little more solid and Prince keeps showing up and making plays. Prince needs to be a little more consistent."

On the defensive line he listed tackle Jeremy Clark and end Brandon Deaderick. He said, "After about the first series, (end) Chris Harris had a good scrimmage, but you can't give up a long run."

Noting that tight end Nick Walker with four catches for 48 yards was the leading receiver in the scrimmage (15 players had receptions), Shula said, "He has been our pass-catching tight end. He's bigger now (up from 250 last year to 270, according to the official roster), but we can still use him like a fourth (wide) receiver."

Overall, Shula thought the first offense "was good at times. We ran the ball well and completed passes downfield. We didn't have any fumbles, but we did have a couple of interceptions."

If there has been a constant theme of this pre-season camp it has been that the offensive line will be a strength of the team. Offensive Line Coach Bob Connelly said after the practice that he is still trying to find the five best, and that depth might be built by having men who can play more than one position.

Shula said, "The offensive line is protecting better. They gave up two sacks (in the scrimmage). One was a play in which they were beaten. The other was a missed assignment. Overall, they have been pretty solid in the running game. We're still looking at moving people around. We're still deciding on a starting five. But most of them have been there a couple of years or more."

Tuesday's practice started at 8:30 in the morning after the tough afternoon scrimmage. "Overall, it was okay, not great," Shula said. "The best thing is that the older guys did a good job of leading. After a scrimmage it's tough to come back the next day and the younger guys have to know they have to push through it. It's important for the older guys to be leaders."

Bama will be out Tuesday night in the first practice of pre-season that is closed to the media. Shula said the team would be in full gear. He said the night work was partly because two of the first three games will kickoff at 6 p.m. and partly because it's a bit of a break for the players to get out of the midday sun.

Although there was a question as to whether the closed practice meant that the team was beginning to work on the game plan for the season-opener against Hawaii, Shula said that preparation would probably begin in about a week with the start of classes on August 23. "Maybe a little earlier," he said, but added that "this week we're continuing installation of everything that we'll have in this year."

Alabama and Hawaii will kick off at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday, September 2, at Bryant-Denny Stadium.


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