Some Good, Some Not From Quarterbacks

Alabama Coach Nick Saban turned a relatively harmless question into a mini-tirade in a mid-week press briefing, and finished with the threat that quarterback statistics might be withheld for a second straight scrimmage. Saban dicussed the quarterbacks following Bama’s two-hour, 130-play scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium, but there were no statistics.

Although journalists who cover Alabama football on a daily basis don’t get to watch Crimson Tide football practices, there are hundreds of fans, sponsors, former players, etc. who do, and from their accounts, neither of the men considered the top candidates to be Bama’s quarterback were impressive.

Following the second and final scrimmage of fall camp, Tide Coach Nick Saban said that quarterbacks Blake Sims and Jacob Coker “played an equal number of reps with the ones (first team offense) today. Both guys had their moments of doing good things, but I also saw inconsistencies with those guys.

“I do think Blake probably is playing a little faster right now, been in the system longer, has a better understanding, has a little bit more rhythm. I think sometimes Jake is still trying to feel his way. He made some real significant strides in practice this week and had some really good practices.

“That’s still going to be a competitive situation. Until somebody clearly wins the job, we’re not going to make a decision.”

“Offensively, we never really got a lot of rhythm,” Saban said. He said drives were scuttled by “a dropped ball, a misfired pass, a penalty – a lot of shooting ourselves in the foot type of stuff – definitely stuff that we can get cleaned up, definitely stuff that we can fix.

“We did make some explosive plays. I do think with the skill guys we have, that’s very, very important.”

Saturday’s scrimmage was Bama’s 19th practice of fall camp. The team will have Sunday and Monday off and resume work Tuesday. Classes at The University begin Wednesday.

“We were a tired team out there,” Saban said. He pointed out that although the scrimmage is played like a game, the team doesn’t work up to the scrimmage as it does a game.

Saban said, “I think it’s really important over the next two days that we give the players two days off and get them back physically a little bit. But I also think it’s really important that you can tell the guys that have the maturity and sort of the right competitive attitude and are wired the right way, can still apply what they know because they have a stronger will even when it’s difficult circumstances. I think that’s important that we have more guys that can do that.”

Alabama is working towards a season-opening game Aug. 30 against West Virginia in Atlanta.

Redshirt freshman Tyren Jones recorded 12 rushes for 44 yards and a touchdown to lead the running backs, while sophomore Altee Tenpenny accounted for 10 carries and another touchdown, but for only 12 yards

Junior Kenyan Drake had three receptions for a scrimmage-best 77 yards and a touchdown and was followed closely by redshirt freshman Ardarius Stewart, who added three receptions for 68 yards. Also adding touchdowns were junior Amari Cooper on five catches for 63 yards, sophomore Chris Black on five receptions for 46 yards, and freshman Cam Sims.

On the defensive side, senior linebacker Trey DePriest had seven tackles, including one for loss, while junior linebacker Dillon Lee added six tackles and one sack. Junior safety Landon Collins had four tackles, a sack, and broke up two passes, and sophomore defensive end Jonathan Allen had four tackles and two sacks.

Saban said the Tide “covered a lot of good situations today. I think we got a lot of players that made a significant amount of improvement from last week to this week. 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 today.

“The (kicking) specialists were really good today. The punting was good. Griff (Adam Griffith) 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, a couple of them. We punted the ball effectively, so the special teams part of it was good. So I was encouraged by the specialists and the progress that we made on special teams.

“I think it’s really important for us to come back with a renewed energy and enthusiasm to demonstrate what we need to do to improve on the things that we need to improve on for the first game.”

A question about the running game led to an update on the Alabama injury situation.

Saban said, “I don’t think we were physical enough on the line of scrimmage. I think that’s something that we’ve got to work on.

“I also think that we had six or seven, probably significant players for our team not out there today. Brian Vogler is a very good blocking tight end. He didn’t scrimmage today. He’ll be full go on Monday. He probably could have scrimmaged today. He’s got an ankle sprain.

“We have two offensive linemen – Leon Brown started the Sugar Bowl last year. He probably could have scrimmaged today. He practiced for the first time yesterday, I mean really practiced. I’m talking about getting in there in team and practiced and did reps. Dominick Jackson and Leon will be back on Tuesday. They didn’t scrimmage today. Dominick Jackson, who’s another guy who showed a lot of promise and potential, will start to do some stuff on Tuesday and may not be ready until later in the week, but I think those guys are three pretty significant players when it comes to being physical and helping us be able to run the ball.

“I think all the running backs did a decent job in the game. I did not think we were physical enough up front and I think that’s something that we definitely need to work on and improve on. So I think we need to keep progressing in that area.”

He said that linebacker Trey DePriest, who has been out or limited for most of fall camp, “went today and did fine.

“The guys that didn’t go: (Safety) Geno Smith who probably could have gone but didn’t go. (Cornerback) Eddie Jackson didn’t go. Trey did and (defensive end) A'Shawn Robinson did not. A’Shawn Robinson is getting better and we expect for him to return to the field probably on Wednesday to be able to do a lot of football related stuff.

“We had no significant injuries today. We had some nicks, a guy who got a sprained ankle, Shaun Dion Hamilton, but he continued to play. Coop (Amari Cooper) got a little, bruised his knee on the ground. He’ll be fine. I can’t remember anyone else who missed any significant amount of time. There’s really nobody that got injured. Jarran Reed sprained his knee a little bit. He’ll be ready to go on Tuesday. Walk on running back [he said it was number 43, who is listed as freshman linebacker Gussie Busch] got a turf toe. He’s the only guy that we feel won’t be ready to practice Tuesday. He and Dominick Jackson won’t be full go on Tuesday. Everybody else, we think, will.”