Tide preps for second scrimmage

Laura Owens

In full pads yet again, the Alabama Crimson Tide football team practiced in Thomas-Drew Practice Facility with pollen falling all around the perimeter. Sophomore running back Mark Ingram said the pollen had never been this bad for him before.

“My allergies are killing me right now,” he said. “But I’m making it. I came down for A-Day [2008] when I was coming in, and this pollen wasn’t this bad. I don’t know where it came from.”

As spring continues to set in, the Tide continues to go at their practices with full force, working toward coming together in the offense and defense. Head coach Nick Saban said the coaches have been moving players around on defense and may finally be finding the best fits for them.

“We’ve got some guys back in spots they probably ought to be in,” he said. “Some of those things are starting to come together. We just need to stay healthy and continue to make progress.”

On the offensive side, the team has been working on using the passing game to complement what it did last year in the running game.

“It’s really showing up in the passing efficiency, in the lack of turnovers,” Saban said. “We’re able to run the ball with a much better balance. We threw the ball a lot more effectively and made explosive plays, especially in the scrimmage.”

Junior tight end Preston Dial said the offense was working on efficiency not only in the passing game but also by capitalizing on more scoring opportunities.

“We left a lot of plays out on the field last year, a scary amount,” he said. “So, we’re trying to capitalize on the plays and have more big plays from scrimmage and eliminate penalties. When you have guys like Maze, Hanks and Julio outside, there’s no reason we can’t pass the ball whenever.”

Most of the offensive players are returning from the 2009 season, and Ingram said this has helped to open things up for them more with the experience.

“We can put in different plays and different looks because we’ve been in the offense for a year or two and we know the basic stuff of the offense,” he said.

Dial agreed that the offense is coming together more, and he said practicing against Saban’s defense also helps them to improve.

“As far as defense goes, Coach Saban’s defense will always be a force to be reckoned with,” he said, “and that we get the honor of going up against it everyday will definitely help us. It did last year, and I hope to see the same results this year.”

For the next scrimmage, taking place on Saturday, Saban said he wants to see more consistent performance from the players. In the first scrimmage, they worked with more basic principles, and they would try to challenge the players more for the second scrimmage.

“This scrimmage may be more about playing a little more systematically on both sides of the ball,” he said, “and not protecting the players but seeing who can actually go out and execute. That’ll be one thing that’ll be interesting for us to see.”