Alabama Coach Mike Shula said that Wednesday's practice, the last in full gear before spring football ends with a public scrimmage Saturday, included quarterback Brodie Croyle taking some snaps with the offense in 11-on-11 work. But, Shula said, "It was just running plays. But it was good to see." Croyle won't take part in the A-Day scrimmage Saturday, but will be on display in some seven-on-seven passing work before the scrimmage begins.
Bama will have another workout in helmets Thursday, then take Friday off before finishing spring practice Saturday. Football activities Saturday include Fan Day in Coleman Coliseum from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. CST, an opportunity for fans to get photographs and autographs of Crimson Tide players. The Walk of Fame at Denny Chimes will have captains putting their hand- and foot-prints in concrete.
At 2 p.m. the Tide will begin a work similar to last Saturday's scrimmage. It will not be a Crimson-White "game." The offense will be in crimson and the defense in white and quarterbacks in yellow, meaning they will not be tackled. There will not be kickoffs. The offense will get the ball and when it is stopped there will be an imaginary punt that changes field position and the other offense will take the field against the alternate defense. There will be seven-on-seven passing work, place-kicking competition, and at "halftime" of the scrimmage a punting competition.
Shula said it would be Friday before it could be determined which players will participate in the scrimmage. A number of Tiders have missed all or part of spring practice. Some, like linebacker Freddie Roach and offensive lineman B.J. Stabler, may make it back for the scrimmage. Halfback Aaron Johns left Wednesday's pratice early after rolling an ankle.
Wednesday's practice was in unseasonably cold weather, mid-40s, with a slight drizzle. "We got off to a slow start with the receivers and quarterbacks, but we stayed focused and got better," Shula said.
Wednesday's work was the first since last Saturday and Shula said the time off appeared to help the Tide. He called it "a good practice. We had a longer practice with a lot of scrimmage work and tackling. We're taking steps. We're not quite there yet, though."
In looking at tapes of last Saturday's scrimmage, Shula said, there were "good things in the scrimmage. We had good individual effort. We have a lot of guys who have improved." He said the coaches had been able to spend a good deal of meeting time this week looking at scrimmage performances on tape and making evaluations.
The Tide coach said, "Our defense is playing real solid football. The first group has done a nice job. I think our team speed on defense is going to help us this year. Some of our back-ups are starting to feel more comfortable with what they are doing. There are still going to be some guys we will have to continue taking a good look at and get them ready to play like Marcus Carter, Terrence Jones, he's playing better; we got to find out about Marcel Stamps at the linebacker position, Demarcus Waldrop, the young defensive linemen, there is going to be some opportunity for some young guys to come in the fall and help out. Offensively, some of the guys we talked about receivers making plays were Zeke Knight, Tyrone Prothro, Keith Brown. The offensive line was not as consistent as we need to be, but we're getting better. Overall, it was a little bit better than the week before, but again, we still have a lot of room for improvement."
Alabama moved its practice back a day from its normal Tuesday. And Tuesday has been a class day all spring for cornerback Anthony Madison. Shula was asked how Madison looked in a rare weekday practice. The coach said, "Fresh, and he should." Shula added, "He's had the least amount of practice. He's really had a good camp. Now he's not practiced as much, he plays with a lot of confidence, a lot of energy. He's very physical for a guy who does not measure out real big. He's got a huge heart. He's one of our leaders on defense."
Shula added that Simeon Castille is providing competition for Madison and for cornerback Ramzee Robinson. And, he said, "That's how you want it as a coach. You want guys feeling like they're going to have to perform every day to keep their job. That's what competition is all about."
Prior to practice Shula watched some former Alabama players, mostly 2004 seniors, go through some drills for pro scouts. Some of the top prospects did not participate. Halfback Ray Hudson and offensive tackle Wesley Britt are recovering from injuries and will work out later. Shula said it is a good opportunity for players who aren't invited to a combine to show what they can do. He said, "The biggest thing for all them is getting in camp so they can show people that they can play football, they have big hearts, their motors run high. That's all they can ask for."