Alabama Head Football Coach Mike Shula said that while the doctors who treated Brodie Croyle for his knee injury have cleared him to participate, that clearance came with some important exceptions, such as keeping offensive and defensive linemen away from him. "The doctors may have said okay, but the head coach says ‘No,'" said Shula. "Brodie has to keep going. It may be frustrating at times, but he's getting work on important things, working on his timing with receivers and continuing to work on getting the ball away quickly. He'll be ready to go in the fall, and that is what's important."
The Crimson Tide's 10th of 15 practices was called "one of our better practices" by Shula. The practice included a couple of periods of scrimmage work. "The energy was good," Shula said. "The offensive line was better. The running backs, Aaron Johns and Rashad Johnson, did a better job in the scrimmage. That was good. But it's a good news-bad news situation. When you get to a scrimmage, the defensive players have to do a good job not only of getting off the block, but making the tackle. We also had a few dropped passes, which takes away from it. But overall it was better."
Alabama will practice again Friday in shorts, then have its second scrimmage of the year Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Next week Bama will practice Wednesday and Thursday, then conclude spring drills with the A-Day Game beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 19.
While the offense had some success in Thursday's scrimmage work, Defensive Coordinator Joe Kines saw his defense as "sluggish. We weren't sharp at all. We were in position to make plays and didn't make them. It was the first time this spring that's happened. We also had the most missed tackles we've had this spring."
Shula saw good things from the offensive line, both in the passing game and in coming off the ball in the running game. He said, "We've had some days this year when our offensive line has had some mental errors. Now, there has been a good reason for that. We have a good defense and the offense has seen a lot."
Shula named some offensive linemen who have shown improvement, including left tackle Chris Capps and left guard Antoine Caldwell. He noted that B.J. Stabler, who is working at both right guard and right tackle and recovering from surgery, has continued to get more work. "But," Shula said, "we're not going to push it and make make it worse." The coach also mentioned back-up tackle Cody Davis as getting better.
A question mark position a year ago is now a team strength. Shula said, "All the wide receivers are improving. They all have room for improvement, but this spring they have so much more knowledge of what we're doing. Zeke Knight (who came in late last fall) is improving every day and we're asking him to do more." He noted that Knight was one of those who "dropped a few today."
Shula expects a strength of the Tide to be the secondary. Not only do all starters return– Anthony Madison and Ramzee Robinson at corners and Charlie Peprah and Roman Harper at safeties–the Tide is also developing depth with the likes of Simeon Castille, Eric Gray, Lionel Mitchell, Aaron McDaniel, and Travis Robinson at corners and Marcus Carter and Jeffrey Dukes at safeties.
A handful of players missed the work, including tight end Nick Walker, who had been expected back today after suffering a bruised calf in last Saturday's scrimmage. "He's day-to-day," Shula said. "We hope to have him back by Saturday, but if not we'll have him next week." Theo Townsend, a walk-on halfback who has been first team much of the spring, was held out with a minor injury.