TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Following Alabama’s second scrimmage of spring camp Friday, head coach Nick Saban challenged his team, stating now was a time for self-assessment for both coaches and players.
According to Saban, the scrimmage featured some positives and negatives on both sides of the ball. Heading into Alabama’s final week of spring camp, that should give Saban and his staff plenty to consider as the Crimson Tide prepares for A-Day next Saturday.
Here is a stock report of some of the things Saban mentioned during his Friday news conference.
Depth — stock rising
After stating a concern with the backups’ performance coming out of the first scrimmage, Saban seemed to be encouraged by the play of the second rep group on Friday. The head coach said the No. 2s made “significant improvement" and competed better against the first team.
Tackling — stock falling
Saban raved over the Tide’s tackling during the first scrimmage, crediting the defensive front seven with limiting the run game. Friday, Alabama’s tackling suffered, allowing the offense to break more big plays.
“I thought we had more missed tackles this week, which means since we're playing against ourself maybe the offense was a little better at running after the catch or breaking some tackles on some runs,” Saban said. “But I didn't think the tackling was quite as crisp as what it was a week ago. I think that goes back to how players practice and how they prepare to do that because we don't tackle in practice so you've got to get yourself in position to thud properly, and that's a thing that's really easy not to do in practice, to get by with.”
Balance on offense — stock rising
Alabama’s passing game was dominant during the first scrimmage, with starting quarterback Jalen Hurts completing more than 50 percent of his passes while throwing four touchdowns with no interceptions. Calvin Ridley had eight receptions, while T.J. Simmons had seven and Robert Foster had three. That was encouraging, but as stated above, the Tide was unable to generate as much offense on the ground.
* Alabama sees improvement in running game despite absence of two starters
Friday, the success of Alabama’s ground game emerged allowing the Tide to bring more balance to its offensive attack.
“We had good balance between some of the passes,” Saban said. “Some explosive plays as well as I thought we ran the ball a little better and had a couple of explosive runs, which there was an absence of a week ago.”
Secondary — stock even
After struggling in the first scrimmage, Alabama’s secondary did not improve much on Friday. Saban continues to voice concern in the deep part of the field and said the Tide has been giving up too many long gains this spring.
“I wasn't pleased with the way we played on the back end today,” Saban said. “I thought we missed some 50-50 balls we should have made plays on and they turned out to be not great big plays but plays that could have been big plays for the defense but ended up being big plays for the offense. Your ability to make plays on 50-50 balls is really big and we can't give those up, whether it's technique or keeping a guy cut off or whatever it might be.”
Isaiah Buggs — stock rising
Buggs has been gaining steam lately, and while stats were not provided for the scrimmage, all signs point to another positive performance on Friday.
* Alabama early enrollees spring report card
Coming to Alabama as the No. 1 rated JUCO player in this year’s class, Buggs, 6-foot-5, 292 pounds, has stood out with great explosiveness and power during practice. Saban said the five-star early enrollee must still work on focusing on his assignment rather than alway trying to make a big play but stated he sees an overall growth from the defensive end.
“I think he's gotten better every practice,” Saban said. “I think discipline to play this kind of defense where everybody has a job to do and it's important for you to do your job and stay in your gap and play your gap, I think some of that stuff is a little new to him. But I think his effort has gotten better and better, he's getting in better condition and I think he's played better each day.”
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