Tide's Scrimmage Was At Fast Speed

Just how simplified was that first scrimmage of Alabama spring football practice last Friday? Following the work, Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban said it had been a "simplified" practice, but the quarterbacks completed 70 per cent of their passes for almost 500 yards.

Greg McElroy, who quarterbacked Alabama to a 14-0 record and the national championship as his first year as a starter in 2009, completed 14 of 22 passes for 235 yards in that scrimmage. On Monday, following a two-hour practice in full gear that was Bama's ninth practice of the spring, McElroy said, "Statistics can be miscalculated."

McElroy, an upcoming senior from Southlake, Texas, said, "We did try to emphasize the pass because of a lot of the situations we were involved in, like two minute, obviously puts a lot of emphasis on the pass. I thought we did a good job passing the ball, taking what they gave us. As far as simplification, we didn't do a lot past what we've already installed. We played a lot of base system, not a lot of motion, not a lot of shifts."

McElroy said the simplified systems led to fast play. Thus, players could be evaluated "more on what you can do as opposed to what you know. That allowed a lot of guys to showcase their ability. It obviously led to some pretty successful outcomes for us quarterbacks in the air."

McElroy said, "I thought the scrimmage went really well. I thought we did a good job competing. We really tried to emphasize a lot of effort and effort on every snap. Of course, we had some busts here and there, which is typical of a first scrimmage. But all in all, I think everyone felt strongly about the way they came out there and produced."

That doesn't mean there's not room for improvement, McEroy said.

"One of the areas we really need to work on continually trying to improve is third down," said McElroy. "I think we were around 40 per cent for the scrimmage, which is 5 per cent short of our goal, which is inexcusable. So we've got to try to continue to improve on that, make strides on that, in the next few practices."

This time a year ago McElroy had almost no college football experience and pre-season analysis of the Crimson Tide almost always focused on Bama having an untested quarterback. As Alabama goes after another national championship in 2010, one of the plusses for Bama is having a veteran quarterback.

"I think the difference from last year to this year is my comfort level," McElroy said. "I feel like I'm playing pretty fast. There are some areas I need to improve on, maybe sliding the pocket, things like that. Which is pretty typical for spring football practice, trying to get a feel for the rush again. When you're doing it week-in, week-out in the fall, it's a lot easier.

"I feel much more comfortable. I feel I can tell the guys exactly where they need to be. And I think more times than not, I am not making mental mistakes. The physical aspects have improved just with hard work in the off-season. But as far as change and my improvements, it has been in the mental aspects and in telling people where to be and my comfort level."

The Crimson Tide will take Tuesday off before returning to the practice field on Wednesday. Alabama is working toward the 2010 A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, April 17, at 2 p.m. CDT. There is no admission charge. The event will be televised nationally on ESPN.

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