Bama Players Talk To Themselves

The extraordinary statistics posted by Alabama quarterbacks in a scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday were not the result of Benedict Arnold being on the defensive side. An Alabama defensive leader gave credit to the Crimson Tide offense, but also criticized the effort of the defense.

"The defense has a lot of room for improvement," Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower said Monday.

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The three quarterbacks who played in the scrimmage were a combined 52 of 69 (over 75 per cent) for 698 yards and nine touchdowns with only two interceptions. Starter Greg McElroy alone was 23-36 for 360 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions.

McElroy said, "I've said this 100 times. It's situational drills. We had a lot of drills that started in the Red (Zone) area that resulted in touchdowns, which is obviously a high level of emphasis for us in offense.

"So we were pleased with our output, but it was very skewed. A lot of people ought to realize that the yardage and attempts and all those things are not necessarily the way things are going to go throughout the season.

"I don't think it was a tribute to offensive success or defensive failure at all. I think we just have to do a better job of making plays on both sides of the ball and we can be a solid team."

Hightower said, "A lot of those numbers came off big plays, not really a lack of execution. There were still a couple of mental errors.

"Everybody wasn't really going as hard as he could. I think the heat kind of got to a lot of guys. I just feel like, today, I kind of feel we're going in the right direction. I know that we turned around and switched gears."

Saturday, on the other hand Hightower said, was "more of a loaf. Our definition of a loaf is not changing the speed." He added, not "where you're considered a traitor, nothing like that."

Hightower emphasized he was not "taking the easy way out" by pointing out the offensive stars Bama has, but did mention the likes of Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Julio Jones, Marquis Maze, Darius Hanks, and Preston Dial.

Alabama had the last of its two-a-day practices Monday, and following the morning session some of the Crimson Tide leaders—including Hightower, McElroy, H-Back Preston Dial, and defensive end Marcell Dareus—had a chat in which players challenged one another to focus and play hard.

Hightower said, "We stepped up after practice and kind of told everybody that the season's coming soon. Everybody kind of has to step up. If you want to play, you've kind of got to show us, this week and in the scrimmage."

He said, "During practice, we're supposed to thud the runner and a lot of guys just kind of tag off. Tagging off is a lot different than tackling. Some of the guys who are mainly tagging off are some of the guys who missed a lot of tackles (in the scrimmage). We just had bad practice habits. That was one of the things we emphasized today, was better tackling. I feel like we're doing a better job of that."

Although the defense did not have a good day Saturday, Hightower had a shout out to a couple of his fellow linebackers. "Ed Stinson was one of the guys that didn't have as many mental errors," Hightower said. "He didn't have any loafs. He's great example of one of the guys that works hard. He and Chavis Williams both."

The return to the practice field Monday followed Bama's first off day since the start of fall camp Aug. 5. Classes begin Wednesday, which will be an off day from practice. The Crimson Tide will begin regular game-week preparation in two weeks, on Aug. 30. Bama opens the season Sept. 4 hosting San Jose State.

On Sunday the team had its Squad Sunday event, attending church together. Then it was time off, which Hightower said was an opportunity to "get some extra treatment and getting in the cold tub felt pretty good."

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