Price Pleased With First Scrimmage

Alabama's football team had its first scrimmage work under new Head Coach Mike Price Saturday, and Price was generally satisfied with what he saw. "I thought the attitude was great and the effort was great; they worked awfully hard," Price said. "The execution wasn't great, but it was better than I expected."

The Tide practice included 83 scrimmage plays, 52 passes and 31 runs. "Thirty-one running plays," Price said. "This was a rushing scrimmage," he joked.

Upcoming sophomore Brodie Croyle is clearly the numbr one quarterback as Alabama completed the fourth of 15 spring practice session. Spring practice will end with the A-Day Game on March 29. Croyle completed eight of 12 passes for 76 yards and one touchdown. On the opening series of the scrimmage he completed four straight passes in taking the offense to a touchdown. The scoring pass went to Zach Fletcher, who finished the day with three receptions for 35 yards.

Croyle was upbeat after the workout. "I feel very comfortable with what we're doing," he said. "I feel like I'm getting things down. If you'll remember back to my first scrimmage, which was also Coach Fran's (former Coach Dennis Franchione) first scrimmage, we had nine interceptions and didn't score."

Both Croyle and Price noted the defense didn't take long to catch up to the offense.

Croyle said, "We were in our base offense and we looked great early, but then the defense figured out what we were doing."

Price said that "maybe one-eighth" of the offense was installed in the first week of drills. He said, "We're going to teach fundamentals this spring. Teach football. We're not just reps, reps, reps

Price said, "I didn't know how the offense would do. They were picking it up a little better than I anticipated. On the other hand, I didn't know how the defense would react the first time they had seen this and they responded well. The defense started slowly, but when they got going they did very well."

Price said he was pleased with the running. game. Freshman Kenneth Darby had seven carries for 35 yards, but suffered a fumble. Returning starter Shaud Williams had six rushes for 21 yards and Ray Hudson five for 18 yards. Walk-on Josh Smith had three runs for 22 yards.

Price was also pleased with the hitting by the defense. "Both sides were challenged," he said.

While Croyle was the top performing quarterback, Price was also pleased with the passing of back-ups Spencer Pennington and Brandon Avalos. "They were putting the ball on the money," Price said. "Their numbers aren't too good because we had a few drops." Avalos completed seven of 12 passes for 63 yards, but suffered two interceptions (one by Thurman Ward, one by DeMeco Ryans) and Pennington was four of 14 for 39 yards.

Dre Fulgham was the top receiver with six catches for 54 yards. Tight end Greg McLain had two catches for 21 yards and walk-on Lance Taylor two for 20 yards.

Price said, "We knew that pass-catching was an area in which we were going to have to improve. And we need more speed. We need more receivers and we need faster receivers."

On the plus side in the passing game, Price was generally satisfied with pass protection by the offensive line. "It will be different when we add (defensive) stunts," he added.

The coach noted there had been no bad center-quarterback exchanges.

In answer to a question, Price said he was not surprised by the talent level. "It was what I thought it would be," he said. "This is a good team."

The scrimmage did not include either of the men expected to start at the two defensive end spots this year. Antwan Odom practiced early, but suffered a slight concussion and was held out of the scrimmage. Price said the injury would not keep Odom out long. Nautyn McKay-Loescher was out with what is thought to be the flu, a high temperature. He is going to be tested for mononucleosis, Price said.

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