Saban’s 3/29/08 press conference

(UA) TUSCALOOSA—The Alabama football team worked through its first scrimmage of 2008 spring drills on a muggy, sunny Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Head coach Nick Saban and his staff put the team through a two-hour workout that consisted of approximately 125 plays from scrimmage plus special teams work.

Saturday’s scrimmage started with the Crimson Tide in game-like conditions with the first team offense facing the second team defense followed by the second team offense going against the first team defense. From there, the team went to a situational scrimmage, focusing on third down situations, the two-minute drill and red zone offense. The team also worked on special teams.

“The biggest thing (in a scrimmage) is we find out where we are,” Saban said. “We get an opportunity to evaluate our players out there playing and competing without the coaches telling them what to do or making the calls for them. I think that’s the next step of being ready to play. It will be interesting when we do the evaluation to figure out where we are.”

Senior quarterback John Parker Wilson threw for 151 yards and receiver Mike McCoy caught four passes for 43 yards. The running game was highlighted by Terry Grant’s 41 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, scoring on runs of 31 and 2 yards. Redshirt freshman receiver A.J. Walker had the game’s longest play, a 60-yard catch and run for a touchdown on a pass from Nick Fanuzzi during third-team versus third-team scrimmaging. Darius Hanks had a solid day with three catches for 40 yards while Brandon Gibson caught two passes for 36 yards, including a 31-yard reception.

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“Andre Smith, Antoine Caldwell and Mike Johnson all played pretty well on the offensive line,” said Saban. “We got pretty consistent performance out of our tight ends. (Will) Oakley and (Nikita) Stover have been a little bit beat up. That hurt us a little bit at wide receiver. Mike McCoy had a nice day today, made some good catches. Overall, we probably dropped too many balls. If you are going to be able to throw the ball consistently, you’ve got to be able to catch it consistently, throw it where they can catch it and protect it well enough so you don’t get negative plays with sacks.”

Defensively, the Crimson Tide totaled seven interceptions and 11 sacks on the day. Junior cornerback Javier Arenas led the way with a pair of interceptions and also had four tackles. Rolando McClain and Charlie Higgenbotham led all tackles with six stops apiece. Safety Justin Woodall also had a good afternoon with five tackles and an interception while Lorenzo Washington added two sacks from his noseguard position.

“There was a lot of good hitting out there,” said Saban. “I thought the defense played well, got lots of turnovers. They seemed a lot more confident in their second year in the system.”

Saturday’s scrimmage marked the first of three for Alabama this spring. The Crimson Tide will resume practices on Monday, March 31, before holding their second scrimmage on Saturday, April 5. The annual A-Day Spring Game is set for 2:00 p.m. on April 12 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

“After six practices I’m not disappointed with where we are, but we are certainly not where we need to be,” said Saban. “We are going to continue to work on that.”

Statistics from Saturday’s scrimmage:
John Parker Wilson – 15 for 36, 151 yards, 1 INT ; Greg McElroy – 7 of 24, 51 yards, 4 INT; Thomas Darrah – 3 for 8, 77 yards, 2 INT; Nick Fanuzzi – 1 for 4, 60 yards, 1 TD.

Terry Grant – 12 rush, 41 yards, 2 TDs; Roy Upchurch – 7 rush, 17 yards; Jonathan Lowe – 3 rush, 14 yards; Jeramie Griffin – 11 rush, 11 yards; Chris Scott – 1 rush, 7 yards.

Mike McCoy – 4 rec., 43 yards; Darius Hanks – 3 rec., 40 yards; Travis McCall – 3 rec., 30 yards; Marquis Maze – 3 rec., 17 yards; A.J. Walker – 1 rec., 60 yards, 1 TD.

Leigh Tiffin – Made: 49, 22, 47; Missed: 47, 40. Corey Smith – Made: 20; Missed: 27.

P.J. Fitzgerald – 3 punts, 119 yards, 39.7-yard average. Heath Thomas – 4 punts, 149 yards, 37.3-yard average.


Rolando McClain – 6 tackles, 2 PBUs, 1 TFL; Charlie Higgenbotham – 6 tackles, 1 QBH; Justin Woodall – 5 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PBU; Javier Arenas – 4 tackles, 2 INTs; Lorenzo Washington – 4 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 TFL; Cory Reamer – 2 tackles, 1 INT, 1 sack; Ali Sharrief – 1 tackle, 1 INT, 1 PBU.


Touchdowns – 3 (Walker 60-yard pass from Fanuzzi; Grant 2 run; Grant 31 run)

PATs – 1 (Tiffin)

Field Goals – 4 (Tiffin – Made: 49, 22, 47; Missed – 47, 40. Smith – Made: 20; Missed – 27).

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