Spring Practice Pleasing Saban

Every practice counts, but everyone is more interested in a scrimmage. Alabama Coach Nick Saban is "anxious to see the scrimmage this week. I think there's always a lot of room to improve from the first scrimmage to the second, just like there is from the first game to the second."

Alabama will have its second scrimmage of the spring on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The first scrimmage was last Friday at the stadium. On Wednesday, Alabama was out in full gear for its tenth practice of the spring.

The Crimson Tide will also work Friday this week. Next week Bama will have two practices during the week, then finish spring drills with the A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny on Saturday, April 17. There is no admission charge for the game, which is the only practice open to the public. Thje event will begin at 2 p.m. CDT and be nationally televised by ESPN.

As for the second scrimmage, Coach Nick Saban said, "I'd like to see a little more consistent performance by some of the younger players who have slowly and gradually improved their knowledge and experience and I'm hoping that more and more players will go out there and play winning football.

"We'll expand probably what we did offensively and defensively. I think in the first scrimmage the goal was just do the things we're sure the players know how to execute so we can evaluate them as football players who will run out there and tackle and block people and do the fundamental things you need to do to be a good player

"This scrimmage may be more about doing things a little more systematically on both sides of the ball and not protecting the players, but seeing who can actually go out and execute when the multiples start to increase a little bit.

"That's one thing I'll be interested to see."

He said there may be some situational work that wasn't done in the first scrimmage. As possibilities he mentioned coming out (from the goalline) and one minute (late game strategies).

In practices this week, Saban said, "We've had two really productive days. I think we've made some progress. We made some improvement in our team. Today's practice was a little more run-oriented. We did more first down, regular down stuff. Friday we'll do a lot more longer yardage, passing stuff.

"I'm really pleased with the progress we've made."

"I feel really good about how things are going on offense. The quarterbacks are playing well. We've got good skill players all around and they've done a really good job. That was evident in the first scrimmage.

"They did a nice job in the passing game and I think we've made some improvement this week all the way around.

"We made some improvements on offense, corrected some things that we needed to correct."

Saban was upbeat when asked what he wants to see from the offense coming out of spring practice and going into fall camp.

"They've done quite a bit," he said. "Improved the passing game, improved some of the things we're doing on offense, tying some of the strengths that we had as an offensive team last year with other things that complement that, especially in the passing game.

"It's really shown up in passing efficiency, lack of turnovers, still a great ability to run the ball, but much better balance. We really threw the ball effectively and made a lot more explosive plays. And not only in the scrimmage, but every day in practice. I'm pleased with the way those guys have all improved, the way they've worked, and the chemistry of that group.

"We're really pleased with the progress we're making and we want every player to know that there's something they can improve on and we can get better. There are still some other concepts we want to look at offensively, and have positive energy and attitude about what we are doing and having everyone responsible and accountable to do their jobs is what's going to help us improve as a team.

"I've really been impressed with the quarterbacks. Greg (McElroy) has had a really good spring. So has A.J. (McCarron). I'm really pleased with Phillip Sims, too; a young guy whose got a lot of talent.

"I'm pleased with the young offensive linemen and the progress they've made.

"They're doing the things on offense that we want to get done. It's going to be important that we continue to do that."

Moving to the defense, Saban said, "I think we're getting some players in the right positions. I've seen them gain confidence from the repetitions they have been getting, especially on defense.

"I feel like defensively we're starting to come together a little bit. We've got some guys back in spots they probably ought to be in. We've been moving around the linebackers. Jerrell (Harris) is back at Sam and Dont'a (Hightower) is playing Mike and Chris (Jordan) is playing Will. When we're in nickel we switch them and Dont'a plays where he used to play and Chris plays where he used to play. I think those guys are all a lot more confident.

"Damion Square is coming around nicely. He's coming in (at defensive end) some on nickel now, so that helps a little bit because Marcell (Dareus) goes inside. So some of those things are starting to come together.

"If we can stay healthy we can continue to make progress by these guys getting to get practice."

Saban said that two linebackers who "did a pretty good job in the scrimmage" last Friday have been slow to recover from injuries. Nico Johnson sprained a knee, which Saban thinks will keep him out a few more days. Tana Patrick suffered a concussion, but could be clear by Friday.

Saban also reported that safety Rod Woodson and defensive lineman Darrington Sentimore, who missed practice Monday, were delayed returning from Easter break because of a car breakdown. "But they are back and made up the stuff they needed to make up," Saban said.

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