Young players stand out in spring scrimmage

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Bo Scarbrough at spring training. UA Athletics

Tyler Waldrep

It’s only been a few months since the Crimson Tide walked away with its latest national championship, but despite the return of several talented juniors like tight end O.J. Howard, young players will have to step up if Alabama is going to defend its title in the fall.

The ongoing four-man competition to replace quarterback Jake Coker will likely dominate headlines until the season starts, but the Crimson Tide must also replace Heisman Trophy winner running back Derrick Henry.

The battle to replace Henry might have ended before it ever really began.

In Saturday’s scrimmage, running back Bo Scarbrough carried the ball nine times for 132 yards and three touchdowns. His main competition, Damien Harris, finished the scrimmage with 36 yards on 12 carries.

“I certainly think he’s capable of doing all the things that we need him to do,” coach Nick Saban said. “I think part of it is confidence, knowledge, experience. Having confidence in what he’s supposed to do, how he’s supposed to do it, why it’s important to do it that way. I think when he understands that, he plays fast and he’s very effective.”

Saban said Scarbrough still has plenty of areas to improve on, but the running back’s work ethic is impressing his coaches. With all his hard work and talent Scarbrough will still rely on the offensive line to open holes for him to run through.

For the spring, the coaching staff decided to see how starting left guard, Ross Pierschbacher, would handle playing center. The experiment seems to be working out.

“[I] really like Ross [Pierschbacher] at center,” Saban said. “I think he’s done a nice job and made that transition fairly well.”

Lester Cotton is another player that has received plenty of praise this spring. Saban said Cotton has seen time at left tackle (while Cam Robinson recovers from offseason surgery), right tackle and guard. Saban also spoke favorably about other young linemen including Dallas Warmack and Brandon Kennedy.

“I feel better about the number of guys that we have to coach and develop on the offensive line,” Saban said. “[Freshman] Jonah Williams has really played nicely and actually played left tackle today with the first team and did a really nice job.”

The regular season is still over four months away, but the habits young players form now could be critical in game situations.

“Everybody has the right to fail, but they don’t have the right to fail for their teammates,” Saban said.

Stat leaders from Saturdays Scrimmage:

  • ArDarius Stewart- Seven receptions, 100 yards, two touchdowns
  • Calvin Ridley- Three receptions, 50 yards
  • Dalvin Tomlinson- Eight tackles, two sacks, two passes broken up
  • Rashaan Evans- Eight tackles, one sack
  • Reuben Foster- Seven tackles, one interception
  • Ryan Anderson- Seven tackles, one sack