The Crimson Tide played final scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday in its preparation for next weekend’s A-Day game, and head coach Nick Saban said other than correctable problems on the defensive side of the ball, the team played well.
“I think that the guys had good energy and enthusiasm today [and] played really well,” Saban said. “Some of the guys that maybe didn’t have that, it probably, maybe showed it a little bit. That’s something that we really need to get more consistent at.”
Saban said he was feeling much better about his team’s overall performance compared to the first scrimmage but wanted to see the team improve and discover the role they would take on next season.
“We really wanted to look at this scrimmage as to get a more game-like situation. We really wanted the players to try to define who they wanted to be as a team,” he said.
Saban said he was particularly pleased with the Crimson Tide’s entire offensive unit, which allowed no turnovers in the situational scrimmage.
“There [were] a lot of really good things in the scrimmage, mostly offensively,” he said. “I thought we really did a good job offensively. [Quarterback] AJ [McCarron] had a really good day; we ran the ball effectively. I thought the offensive line played pretty well. We had some receivers step up and make some plays. We didn’t have a lot of dropped balls.”
McCarron led the way offensively, completing 23 of 28 passes for 318 yards and five touchdowns. Wide receiver Amari Cooper had six catches for 108 yards and four touchdowns.
On the ground, running back T.J. Yeldon led all rushers with 101 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Early enrollee Derrick Henry had the most carries on the team with 17 for 79 yards.
Defensively, the Tide worked with what Saban called a “banged up” group that included linebacker Xzavier Dickson, who was held out of the scrimmage at the last minute with a bruised knee.
“We had a lot of new guys in a lot of places,” Saban said. “I don’t think we tackled real well … We definitely have a lot of things that we can correct on that side of the ball.”
Linebacker Denzel Devall led the team with six tackles and one sack. Cornerback Deion Belue had five tackles and one sack.
Despite the defense not having its best day, Saban was quick to point out that all of the team’s mistakes – defense, offense or special teams – are all relatively easy fixes.
“I don’t think anything that happened out there is not something that can’t be corrected,” he said.