First-team defense steps up during Alabama's final scrimmage
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. _ The most important thing from the University of Alabama’s final fall scrimmage on Saturday was that there were no major injuries, especially considering that Nick Saban said that he had a “tired team.”
“I think we got a lot of players that made a significant amount of improvement from last week to this week,” the coach said. “But I also think that there were other players who we would hope would have made more progress in terms of where they were a week ago and where they got to today.
“Defensively, there was much better tackling, better hitting, not as many missed tackles. (The second-team) defense makes too many mental errors, but we never had a lot of that with the first group and they played pretty well except for down on the goal-line.”
After two plus weeks of training camp, the Crimson Tide will take the next two days off to give players a chance to rest and recover. Alabama will return to practice Tuesday and then start the buildup to the Aug. 30 season opener against West Virginia in Atlanta.
Here’s a position-by-position look at the Crimson Tide after its final fall scrimmage, which was held at Bryant-Denny Stadium:
Quarterbacks: No passing statistics were released and there’s no indication that the competition between Blake Sims and Jacob Coker is close to a conclusion.
Running backs: Redshirt freshman Tyren Jones had 12 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown to lead all running backs, while junior Kenyan Drake had another big performance with three receptions for 77 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown.
“He’s done a good job,” Saban said. “All the running backs did a decent job in the game.”
Wide receivers/tight ends: Junior Amari Cooper had a scrimmage-high five receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown. Saban added that he sustained a bruised knee on a tackle, but “he’ll be fine.”
“We did make some explosive plays today. I do think with the skill guys we have that’s very, very important.”
However, Saban also mentioned that there were a number of dropped passes as the offense struggled to get into a rhythm. Senior tight end Brian Vogler was held out due to a sprained ankle.
Offensive line: Just like after the first scrimmage Saban said he wants the line to be more physical. Coaches held guard Leon Brown (foot) out while junior-college transfer Dominck Jackson is expected to return from a sprained ankle next week. Both figure to challenge sophomore Alphonse Taylor at right guard.
“Those guys are three pretty significant players when it comes to being physical and helping us be able to run the ball,” Saban said.
Defensive line: After being suspended for the first week of camp, nose guard Brandon Ivory and defensive end Jarran Reed saw their first game-like action. During the pre-scrimmage observation period Ivory was lined up with the second unit, while Reed was on the third unit.
They along with A’Shawn Robinson (sprained kee), who Saban said should return to practice Wednesday, were the starters in the spring.
“That’s given a lot of other guys, (Joshua Frazier), several other guys, really Da’Shawn Hand a lot of reps,” Saban said. “They have improved significantly.”
Saban added that Reed sustained a sprained knee Saturday, but should be back practicing Tuesday.
Linebackers: After sustaining a knee injury during the first weekend of training camp, senior Trey DePriest was back at weakside linebacker and led the defense with seven tackles.
“Trey was in and out at linebacker with his knee and that gave Reuben (Foster), Reggie (Ragland), Shaun Dion Hamilton, those guys really got a lot of turns,” Saban said. “It forced them to make calls and do things that they could have depended on somebody else to do had Trey been there. Rashaan Evans has gotten a lot of reps because Tim Williams (suspended) isn’t here.
“This has really helped the depth of our team long-term because we were able to develop some guys that probably wouldn’t get near the opportunities had they not.”
Specific to Hamilton, who sustained a sprained ankle Saturday but kept playing, Saban said “For a freshman, he’s really done a good job.”
Defensive backs: Sophomore cornerback Eddie Jackson (knee surgery) did some “spot type of stuff,” and junior safety Geno Smith (sprained knee) was held out of the scrimmage.
Saban praised the performances of junior cornerbacks Cyrus Jones and Bradley Sylve, who have worked all camp with the first unit ahead of freshmen Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey.
“We didn’t give up a lot of big plays,” Saban said. “The (second-team) defense gave up a couple of explosive plays. Couple of them were busted coverages, couple of them were really good plays by the offense.”
Special teams: All indications are that sophomore kicker Adam Griffith and freshman punter JK Scott have both had a good camp.
“Specialists were really good today,” Saban said. “The punting was good. Griff was really good today on field goals – I don’t know if he was 4-for-4 or 5-for-5, he actually made probably a 47, 42, 45-yard (attempts). We punted the ball effectively, so the special teams part of it was good.”
(As released by the University of Alabama)
Statistics include 11-on-11, situational drills, red area, goal line, 2-minute
Tyren Jones – 12 rushes, 44 yards, 1 TD
Altee Tenpenny – 10 rushes, 12 yards, 1 TD
Lawrence Erekosima – 4 rushes, 12 yards
Kenyan Drake – 3 rec., 77 yards, 1 TD
ArDarius Stewart – 3 rec., 68 yards
Amari Cooper – 5 rec., 63 yards, 1 TD
Cam Sims – 2 rec., 53 yards, 1 TD
Chris Black – 5 rec., 46 yards, 1 TD
Trey DePriest – 7 tackles, 1 TFL
Dillon Lee – 6 tackles, 1 sack
Jonathan Allen – 4 tackles, 2 sacks
Landon Collins – 4 tackles, 1 sack, 2 PBU