It was a picturesque Friday afternoon as the Alabama Crimson Tide football team took the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium for their first spring scrimmage of the 2015 season.
Members of the media were allowed a quick viewing session on the field prior to kick-off to watch the Tide warm-up and participate in position drills. It was a closed scrimmage so members of the media were forced into press conference rooms to await the arrival of head coach Nick Saban.
Shortly after the scrimmage, Coach Saban sounded off on the team’s performance.“I think the spirit was good, I think the enthusiasm was good. Overall a lot of guys gave a lot of effort. I really like the spirit and how this team goes about what they do.”
Even with it being just weeks into spring practice, Saban was very pleased with the effort put in by the defense. “Defensively we got to play a lot of players in the two deep (defense). I thought there was a lot of good hitting out there and the tackling was pretty good for the most part for this time of the spring. I think the defensive front is the strength of our team and had some guys play in the secondary that got some valuable experience today. Made some mistakes but it was all things that they can learn from”
Senior linebacker Reggie Ragland led the way on defense with 5 tackles and added a fumble recovery and three pass break ups.
Defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson plugged up the middle and collected 3 tackles, but turned some heads when the 320 pound junior dropped back into coverage and returned an interception for a touchdown.
It will be tough for the Crimson Tide to replace key offensive players from the previous season like Blake Sims and Amari Cooper. Coach Saban acknowledged the struggle on offense but seemed to be in good spirits overall. “I thought the offense got into a little bit of rhythm and actually played better as the scrimmage went on, which is a good thing.”
One of the main concerns is the battle at the quarterback position, which seems to be up in the air according to Saban. “We rotated all the quarterbacks today so it was probably a bit more difficult for any one guy to get in a rhythm. They all played a similar number of plays, 30-40 plays a piece. All of them did some good things and all of them have things they can improve on.”
Running backs Derrick Henry and Bo Scarbrough both had good days. Henry controlled the offense, running for 112 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. Scarbrough was held to just 36 yards but collected two touchdowns. Coach Saban disclosed that Scarbrough injured his knee and had to be carted off late in the scrimmage but doesn’t know the extent of the injury and a return time for the freshman.
Saban announced that the receivers needed “to pay more attention to detail”, but had some good initial numbers.
Junior Raheem Franklin racked up 88 yards on five catches. ArDarius Stewart pulled down 3 balls for 65 yards and a touchdown. Second year receiver Robert Foster also grabbed three passes for 52 yards and a score. And tight end OJ Howard snatched a couple passes for 58 yards and a touchdown.
The stats of the quarterbacks were not released.
Coach Saban seemed to be content with the results of the first scrimmage, but is always looking to be better and never settle.
“All in all, I think we’re not satisfied but were certainly not disappointed. We know what we have to do to get better and I think everybody’s commitment and focus to do those things is very important.”