Saban Discusses Players In Scrimmage

Alabama Coach Nick Saban discussed the performances of a number of players following the Crimson Tide's scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday. He also indicated there may be some more experimentation in the final week of practice.

Alabama will return to Bryant-Denny Stadium next Saturday for the A-Day Game at 2 p.m. CDT.

Alabama was on the practice field for a little over two hours on Saturday, the 10th of 15 spring practice dates.

Regarding individual players, Saban said quarterback John Parker Wilson had a good day, that the interception he suffered was a tipped ball. He said, "I think all the quarterbacks did better." He said that third and fourth quarterbacks, Nick Fanuzzi and Thomas Darrah, got more work than last week. He said that with Wilson getting all the work with the first offense and Greg McElroy getting all the work with the second offense that Fanuzzi and Darrah didn't get a chance to show what they could do "with better players around them and against better players."

He cited tight end Nick Walker for making eight receptions and said that wide receivers Mike McCoy and Earl Alexander had done well. In answer to a question regarding Darius Hanks, Saban said Hanks had been a tough man for his defense to cover last fall when Hanks was on the scout team. Saban said he has good hands and a knack for getting open, but that he needs to be more physical in his play.

Also in answer to a question, he said tight end Chris Underwood "does a good job and is going to be a good player." He indicated Underwood must mature and gain consistency.

He said the running backs did well. Regarding Glen Coffee, who has been withheld from contact with a shoulder injury, Saban said Coffee didn't play in the scrimmage, but that Coffee had a good week of practice. He said the running backs did well. The coach said that Roy Upchurch, the leading rusher in the scrimmage, had not bee with the first offense the previous week and added "If he doesn't do some things he won't be next week. Not that I'm sending a message."

On defense he said the line didn't have enough depth but that there had been improvement, noting Josh Chapman, Alfred McCullough, and Luther Davis. In the secondary he mentioned Tyrone King, Javier Arenas, Justin Woodall and Ali Sharrief for their improvement.

Linebacker is a position of need with only Rolando McClain returning as a starter—for that matter, the only linebacker with any meaningful experience returning if the suspended Prince Hall and Ezekial Knight, out with illness, do not make it back. Saban said McClain is doing well and that Charlie Higgenbotham, Cory Reamer and Chavis Williams.

One experiment announced earlier in the week was the move of fullback Baron Huber to linebacker. Saban said, "He's made some progress, but it's only been three days. He had a sack today. He's getting better. He's a little more comfortable, but it's too early to make a call.

Saban said other experiments are possible, including further experimentation with senior Jimmy Johns. The former tailback moved to inside linebacker for bowl practice and has been working at weakside linebacker. Saban said it was possible that Johns would get a look to see how he can do "on the end of the line," at one of the outside linebacker positions. "We know how he can play inside," Saban said.

In special teams work, Saban noted that Leigh Tiffin connected on a 51-yard field goal in the scrimmage and that the punting of P.J. Fitzgerald had been better.

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