Tide Improved In Second Scrimmage

Two weeks from the season opening game against San Jose State, the Alabama football team went to Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday for its second and final scrimmage of Fall camp. To some extent, the Crimson Tide had a successful day.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said, "I think the number one thing we wanted to get from scrimmage one to scrimmage two was to improve as a team. I think we made some improvement. I'm certainly not disappointed in the improvement we made as a team, but at the same time we're not satisfied. We're not where we'd like to be. We need to focus on continued improvement."

Alabama will host San Jose State in Bryant-Denny Stadium at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday, Sept. 4. This week, the Crimson Tide will take Sunday and Monday off before returning to the practice field Tuesday afternoon.

"I think our team needs rest right now," Saban said. "This is kind of the way we've always done it. We don't get them a lot of days off. We've only had one day off since we started camp. We do that to be able to accumulate two days rest for them at this time, which I think does a lot more good for them in terms of their recovery."

Prior to the scrimmage, Saban had said it was important for the players in part because it would help determine which players are coached to be game-ready. Following the scrimmage, Saban was asked if that policy also pertained to placekickers and punters.

The Tide coach seemed to clarify his previous remarks, at least as far as the kickers. "We didn't make that statement with a gun to our head, like, we have to make the decision right now or you all were going to throw me off the cliff," he said. "We're going to make the decision when it's the right time to make the decision for our team; when somebody sort of clearly makes the statement that they can take ownership for doing the job. Competition is good for the team. Both guys are kicking in both situations and so are both punters. We'll evaluate how they did today, look at the film and kind of go from there."

There did not appear to be serious injuries in the scrimmage. The Tide coach said that nose tackle Josh Chapman had a thigh bruise, but "he'll be all right in a couple of days. Trent Richardson bruised his shoulder. He could have come back and played in the scrimmage. He may be out a day or two."

He said that cornerback DeMarcus Milliner and running back Blake Sims, both true freshmen who have been out several days with injuries, missed the scrimmage.

Cornerback DeQuan Menzie, who had missed some practice time with a slight hamstring pull, did participate Saturday. Saban said, "It was good to get Menzie to go through the scrimmage today. He really has worked the last couple three practices and held up okay in the scrimmage today. Hopefully, we'll keep building on him."

The Tide coach said, "There's a lot of things that we can learn from this scrimmage. There's a lot of situational mistakes made that players are going to learn from. Hopefully they can all learn from it and we'll continue to get better.

"Last week we really focused on probably throwing the ball. This week we wanted to play a game-like situation for, I think we played 50-something plays in the beginning, just like a game. The ones against the twos both ways. Whatever situation came up we played it. Did the substitutions in kicking. I think a large part of that, we have been trying to in practice — which we haven't really done in the past with more experienced guys as specialists — is just create situations in practice where they have to run in and kick a field goal, make a punt, whatever. That's what we wanted to do today. Instead of just having a punting period, where it's a situational punt or punt return, just everything had to be run off the sidelines and do it like you're doing it in a game. Like you only have to make one shot at it.

"We got quite a few of those situations in today. We tested the running game a little bit more today, probably as much to see if we could stop them on defense as much as to see if we could run on offense. So we didn't really throw as much today, really by design. Last week we had probably twice as many passes. We didn't do as many two-minute situations. We didn't do as many third-down situations. But more game-like situations in this scrimmage today."

An area of concern following the first scrimmage was the kicking game, specificially the punting and field goal kicking. Saban said it was very much improved Saturday.

"They did a a nice job," he said. He said that Cade Foster missed a 52-yard try, but also made a 52-yarder as he was good on three of four kicks. Jeremy Shelley made all of his four tries.

Saban said, "Both punters were much better today. Both of those guys have done a good job. Cody Mandell has been a little more consistent, but Jay Williams probably, when he does it right, he really does it well. But he's got to keep working on consistency."

Asked about the players competing at the safety positions, Saban said he would wait until he had seen the videotapes of the practice before declaring. "I think we played a little bit better in the back end today," he said. "All those guys played in some role with the first team whether it was the nickel or dime or whatever. I just think we've got to get everybody playing with more consistency. We didn't give up as many big plays today, which is a good sign, but we still had our share of mental errors. We need to get more guys to take ownership to do their job on a more consistent basis."

Senior quarterback Greg McElroy drew praise. Saban said that McElroy got two-thirds of the work with the first offense, A.J. McCarron one-third of the work with the first offense and two-thirds with the second offense, and Phillip Sims one-third with the second offense and two-thirds with the third offense.

"We're trying to give them all more work," Saban said. "Since A.J. has never played with the ones, I think he needs to be able to play some with them."

Saban said, "I still think one of the key words for this team with so many young guys, especially on defense and special teams, is what does it mean to mature? You can physically mature, get bigger and stronger. I don't think that's going to happen a lot. But I don't think most of the guys that we're talking about we're not talking about the fact that they're not big enough or strong enough or fast enough.

"They get educated on what's expected of them, whether it's how you finish plays or the effort you give or the toughness you play with or how you execute at your position. Or probably the real part of it is what sense of ownership do you take individually for doing your job and do it the right way, and focus on doing it the right way, and develop the right habits all the time and with consistency, and don't do it because we say that's the way you do it, but because you believe that's what you need to do to be a good football player.

"I think that's probably the biggest thing that we need to continue to work on with some of our players. We need to get more players that play with the kind of maturity that's going to be necessary to play with consistency against the competition that we have to play against. those guys, too, in case that circumstance comes up in the future."

Saban was reminded that former Alabama placekicker Leigh Tiffin said the wind patterns in Bryant-Denny were tough on a placekicker. Does the new addition in the South end zone affect wind patterns fort kickers?

Saban said, "We have so many issues with our young guys, you know, we're still trying to get them to forget about what they wore to the prom last spring and understand that they're in college now. Wind patterns are something that comes down the road. It's almost like when you take accounting, you take accounting I, II and III if you're an accounting major. And we're in pre-accounting right now.

"The wind patterns comes up in accounting III."

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