Tide Has First Full Scrimmage

Spencer Pennington had a good scrimmage

College football players have a curfew the night before games. In the spring, the closest thing to a game is a controlled scrimmage. Alabama's football team had a controlled scrimmage Saturday, and at least three Crimson Tide players performed with very little sleep. Number one Tide tailback Shaud Williams and back-up quarterbacks Spencer Pennington and Brandon Avalos were out late Friday.

They are members of the Bama baseball team that took until 1 a.m. to defeat Georgia, 8-7, in the opening Southeastern Conference baseball game of the year Friday night.

"That had to be tough on those young men to play baseball until after one and then be here at eight for a scrimmage," Bama Head Football Coach Mike Price said Saturday afternoon.

Pennington, for one, seemed to thrive on the situation. The upcoming sophomore led his team to the only two offensive touchdowns of the day in the 92-play scrimmage. Although Bama had some scrimmage work in previous practices, this was the first of three full scrimmage practice dates in the spring. The next will be next Saturday.

Pennington hit five of his final six passes and finished with nine completions in 15 attempts for 110 yards. He had a five-yard touchdown pass to Triandos Luke. The other offensive touchdown came on a two-yard run by tailback Kenneth Darby.

Pennington said after the practice that he feels more comfortable in this offense than he did in the option offense Bama ran the previous two years under Coach Dennis Franchione.

While Pennington had an excellent day, Brodie Croyle continues as the leading quarterback candidate. Offensive Coordinator Eric Price said after the practice that "Brodie did a good job of reading. The scrimmage was good for us. We made some plays, but there were some we didn't make. The quarterbacks have a lot on their minds and that affects execution. We're taking baby steps in this offense right now, but execution should go up next week."

Bama's head coach said, "Both Brodie and Spencer are very good in the huddle. They are giving good leadership." He added, "Brodie missed a couple of passes under pressure. That was good for him. He's got to learn to stay in there and deliver the ball. And he will."

Croyle completed 14 of 28 passes for 93 yards. Avalos missed his only pass attempt, while walk-on Mike Machen hit one of three, but suffered two interceptions. Machen's one completion, a six-yard gain, was wiped out when safety Charles Jones stripped receiver Dre Fulgham of the ball. The interceptions were turned in by Sammy Autrey and Corbin Pardue.

Fulgham was th4e leading receiver with seven catches for 54 yards. Luke had four receptions for 53 yards and Lance Taylor four for 44 yards. Zach Fletcher had two catches for 20 yards.

Price said, "The receivers were good on Friday, then didn't do as well today." He added that the Tide has to do a better job of getting the ball to Fletcher. He also said that Luke showed good ability running with the ball after the catch.

There were 36 rushing plays. Ray Hudson had three carries for 18 yards, Darby 10 for 18, and Williams eight for 13.

Defensive Coordinator Joe Kines said, "I don't think we blew as many assignments as we did in the first scrimmage. We tightened up and we had good effort all day."

Bama's head coach appears to be more impressed with effort and attitude than he is with performance thus far. He said he would give the team a B grade at the halfway point of spring practice. But, he said, "Attitude gets an A. We've had an excellent attitude."

Bama has completed eight of 15 spring practice days. Price said he didn't think there would be a lot more addition of plays in the final half of spring training, leading up to the A-Day Game on March 29. "We'll keep banging away," he said. "I believe in fundamentals."

Price said, "There were a lot of good things that happened out there. We ran 92 plays and no one was seriously hurt. We've had two scrimmages now and we haven't had a bad center-quarterback exchange. And we had only one fumble by a running back. The defense ran to the ball and hit better."

The coach said, "We played our better players today and so some didn't get to participate. I told them from the beginning that the first team players had to learn the system first." He said Bama would probably have some scrimmage work for the third team players as a part of Wednesday's practice.

Price said he thought "The offensive line started off a little soft, but they picked it up and for the most part played pretty well."

He added, "I think the defensive line is going to be pretty good when we get them all back." Antwan Odom, who had missed work with a concussion, suffered an apparent ankle sprain in Saturday's practice. Anthony Bryant, who has been out with a bruised coccyx (tailbone), got some fullspeed work. Tackle Ahmad Childress, who has had the flu, was dressed, but did not participate. End Nautyn McKay-Loescher, who has been out with what has now been diagnosed as mononucleosis, continues to recover from his illness.

Odom had one and a half sacks for 13 yards and Chris Harris had a sack for a six-yard loss.

In addition to offensive and defensive work, Price said "We got a lot of work in the kicking game." In fact, the kicking teams scored two touchdowns. The punt block team blocked two punts – one by Jawan Garth and one by Charles Jones. Garth's block was picked up by Derrick Pope, who ran it in for a score. Brandon Brooks had a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Price also said there had been some separation among kickers. He said that Jeff Aul and Bo Freeland had performed best among the punters. Seven place-kickers got work in the scrimmage, all attempting 37-yard field goals. Price said the two most impressive were Kyle Robinson and Brian Bostick, both of who hit all three of their chances. Mike McLaughlin was good on his two opportunities, while Alex Fox made his one try, Josh Woodard and Gabe Giardina were both one-for-two, and Michael Ziifle missed all three chances.

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