Tide focuses on real-game scenarios

Tide+focuses+on+real-game+scenarios

Laura Owens

The Alabama football team held its second scrimmage in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday as the first game of the season looms near.

In the team’s first scrimmage, the offense dominated through the air. Head coach Nick Saban said in that scrimmage, the Crimson Tide focused on the two-minute drill and end of the game and third-down situations.

For this scrimmage, the coaches wanted to create more game-like situations for the team to work through.

“I think the number one thing we wanted to get from scrimmage one to scrimmage two was to improve as a team,” Saban said. “I think we made some improvement. I’m certainly not disappointed in the improvement that we made as a team, but at the same time, I think we are not satisfied with where we’d like to be and we need to focus on continued improvement.”

In this scrimmage, which ran roughly 115 plays, the running game took 56 of those, with five different running backs getting an opportunity. Redshirt freshman Eddie Lacy led on the stat sheet with 15 rushes for 61 yards.

Junior Mark Ingram was behind him with 12 rushes for 46 yards. Junior Demetrius Goode, who had 12 rushes for 35 yards, was the only running back to score a touchdown.

Sophomore Trent Richardson left the scrimmage early with a bruised shoulder, but Saban said it was minor.

“He could’ve come back and played in the scrimmage, but we didn’t have him come back,” he said. “He may be out for a day or two.”

Senior quarterback Greg McElroy was 10-of-18 for 134 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

“He played very well today,” Saban said. “I know if we passed out the stats, he’d have two interceptions, but one was a tip ball and the other one was a fourth down at the end of the day where he just had to throw it up. But he played very well.”

On the defensive side of the ball, sophomore linebacker Dont’a Hightower led with eight tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and one pass broken up. Junior defensive back Mark Barron was second in tackles with five.

Also practicing with more game-like scenarios were the punters and kickers, who  have both been big questions for the new 2010 team. Kickers and punters have done their own drills up to this point, but Saban said before Saturday’s scrimmage he wanted to see how they handled game pressures.

“We made most of what we should’ve made in field goals,” Saban said. “I know Cade [Foster] missed I think a 52-yarder, but he made one from 52 that would’ve been good probably from a lot more.

“[Jeremy] Shelley did a good job. I think he made most of what he was supposed to make.”

Saban said the new punters, Cody Mandell and Jay Williams, both played better, but both still need to work on consistency.

“We kicked a bunch,” he said. “Both punters were much better today. Both of those guys have done a good job. Cody Mandell has been a little more consistent, but Jay, when he does it right, he really does it well. But we need to work on consistency.”

For both of the kicking components to the special teams, Saban said there isn’t a timetable for picking starters, but they’ll make that decision when the time is right.

The team had Sunday and Monday off from practice to rest from the scrimmage, but they return to the field on Tuesday, as the countdown to the first game against San Jose State continues.