TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama held its second scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban spoke with reporters following the workout. Here’s everything you need to know from practice and Saban’s time at the podium.
- Defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson (foot) remained limited. Tomlinson wore a black, non-contact jersey and did not participate in the scrimmage. He sat out this week after twisting his ankle in last Saturday’s scrimmage.
“Dalvin Tomlinson, who injured his ankle, he was dressed, probably could have done some things today but we didn’t want to push the envelope on him.” — Saban
- Linebacker Keith Holcombe was spotted with a walking boot on his left foot.
“Holcombe has a twisted ankle too. We held him out. He might be out for another day or two.” — Saban
- Tight end O.J. Howard was limited during warmups. He didn’t participate in any of the drills.
- Wide receiver Cam Sims was also limited during warmups.
“Cam Sims got a little knee soreness late in the week last week with his injured knee so we held him out basically because we thought it would be good for him to get three days. We’re really not going to get to practice the next two days. The players are off tomorrow, we’ll watch the film on Monday and do stretch and stride which really is not practice, with the strength coaches, so we wanted to take advantage of giving him some down time to help him get back to 100% because he was having a really good camp.” — Saban
What we saw
- As reporters were being ushered out of the viewing period, players were sent to the locker room because of the heavy rain.
- Before the rain forced everyone inside, Cooper Bateman was the first quarterback up. His offensive line had Cam Robinson at left tackle, Lester Cotton at left guard, Ross Pierschbacher at center, Bradley Bozeman at right guard and Jonah Williams at right tackle.
- Blake Barnett was the quarterback with the second offense. Jalen Hurts was the quarterback with the third offensive group.
- Hale Hentges was the first tight end up with O.J. Howard limited.
- Calvin Ridley, ArDarius Stewart and Gehrig Dieter were the wide receivers with the first-team offense.
- ESPN’s Rece Davis was in town for the scrimmage. Davis is an Alabama alum.
What Saban said … What we think it means
On if a quarterback has separate from the group
“There’s encouraging things. I think the big word there that I’d like to use with these guys is consistency. One day or two days in a row, it will look like one guy is starting to sort of forge ahead a little bit. Then two days later somebody else seems to have a good day or two and it makes you think maybe this is the guy who’s the guy starting to take the bull by the horns and is going to be the guy. So I think it’s consistency. I think it’s the guy that can go out there and do it day in and day out and have the confidence to do it, not to press, take what the defense gives, don’t try to make plays. I think what the quarterback has to understand, and you’ve heard me say this before, is you can’t make the plays that lose the game. You know, we’ve played here with quarterbacks on good teams that didn’t necessarily do anything to win the game, they just didn’t do anything to lose it. And I think it starts with that. Those are the kind of plays that we have to eliminate. Understanding the situation, whether it’s two-minute, and you take off running and the clock runs out rather than throwing it to the read that you have, those kind of things are what the players have to understand and be able to do with more consistency. I think everybody is capable. I don’t have any question about the capabilities. We talk about this on a daily basis, but each time we talk about it, somebody seems to come to the forefront, and then all of a sudden somebody else sort of pushes ahead. So the person that can play with the most consistency is the guy that’s going to have the best opportunity to lead us in the first game and I can’t really say that one guy sticks out right now. I think they have different skill sets, so doing what they can do will probably help each and every one of them. We’ll probably have to get into that some this week.” — Saban
What we think it means: Alabama has three capable quarterbacks that Saban is comfortable playing — Cooper Bateman, Blake Barnett and Jalen Hurts. Alabama can win with either one of these guys given the talent around them. But the guy who wins the job is going to be the player who limits mistakes and earns the trust of the coaching staff. That’s the bottom line. No amount of experience or talent will trump taking care of the ball. Based on the fact that no one has separated from the group, it’s still a safe bet to say Bateman will start the season opener. Things can change between now and the opener, but Bateman’s steady hand gives him the edge. Hurts has looked great at times, but has also made freshman mistakes at other times. Barnett needs to cut down on the turnovers if he hopes to have a shot.
On what specific areas he wants to see improvement
“I think we talked about playing with more discipline as a team, too many penalties, illegal formations, false starts. That’s one thing that I think is very correctable, and we need to get it corrected. I think the biggest thing is for us to find more players who can contribute on a consistent basis. I think we can play a little better on the offensive line, be a little more physical, finish plays a little bit better. We are still looking for consistency at the running back position. Obviously quarterback is something that we’d like to see happen. I didn’t think, in the beginning of the scrimmage today, we tackled very well on defense, which is uncharacteristic for us. I think we got off to a little bit of a slow start after we sat around for a half hour to go out there and play. We can’t give up big plays on defense, we have to be a good tackling team, we have to get turnovers. All those things are things that I think we need to improve on.” — Saban
What we think it means: The camp portion of practice is over, and it’s getting very close to time for the team to start installing the gameplan for USC. Saban doesn’t want these little mental errors to carry over into the season. It can sometimes be tough for players to make the transition from camp to having referees. That’s why Saban brings on a full staff of officials for Alabama’s scrimmages and treats them like real games. The offensive line is going to have to raise their level of play this season. There won’t be a Derrick Henry-type player who can consistently make something out of nothing. Speaking of running backs, Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris are the top two guys, but neither has shown they can carry the load to this point. Both are talented and should develop into feature players with time. B.J. Emmons got a lot of reps on Saturday. He and Joshua Jacobs are the future 1-2 punch. As far as tackling goes, Saban just doesn’t want the defenders to get sloppy.
On young players in the secondary showing more maturity
“They have too. With the losses of the guys that we’ve had that would have been contributors, maybe starters in some cases. I’ve been really encouraged by Hootie Jones and Deionte Thompson. We have played Trevon Diggs on both sides of the ball, and he’s done very well, so that’s been very helpful. Anthony Averett has had a good, good camp, so we feel like we have three good corners. We have to have one of these young guys sort of come along and step up and continue to improve. They have made a lot of progress, but that’s where the depth’s got to come from at that position.” — Saban
What we think it means: Alabama’s secondary took a pretty big hit with Maurice Smith (Georgia) and Kendall Sheffield (junior college) transferring. Add in the fact that Tony Brown is going to miss “several” games due to an NCAA suspension and it’s easy to see why the young players must step up. Saban’s comments on Jones and Thompson are important because Alabama needs depth at safety beyond Eddie Jackson and Ronnie Harrison. Diggs is a natural athlete. He can play both receiver and safety, but may be a safety this year because of the crowded receiver room and lack of numbers in the secondary. Anthony Averett joins Marlon Humphrey and Minkah Fitzpatrick as the “three good corners” Saban is referring to. Averett will likely come in when Alabama moves to its nickel and dime packages. That will allow Fitzpatrick to move inside to star. Beyond those guys, freshmen Shyheim Carter, Jared Mayden and Aaron Robinson must continue to develop.
Other news you need to know
Alabama’s quarterback competition is still open following the second fall scrimmage
Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick is prepared to play multiple positions
He said what? (quote of the day)
“Giving effort is not a gift. Talent is a gift. We’ve always had pretty talented guys around here, but to play with the kind of intangibles: effort, discipline, toughness, responsible to do your job, we’re getting more people to be able to do that. I thought the ones basically played pretty well in the scrimmage. First defense, but the depth on our squad, we really have to get more guys to play with more consistency. We have a lot of young players. I think it’s going to be a work in progress to get the knowledge and experience and understanding that they need to have to go out there and play with the kind of intangibles where they know what they’re doing. We’ve got plenty to work on. We’re not disappointed with where we are.” — Saban on the second scrimmage