Friday, Alabama held its first scrimmage of the spring, the eighth practice of the 15 total allowed in the spring.
Alabama is welcoming in two new coordinators and in the midst of a quarterback battle, so all eyes are on how well the offense is performing and who will be the next great Alabama quarterback. While the scrimmage was closed to the public and no stats were provided, it appears that head coach Nick Saban was pleased with the way the offense performed.
"I think we did a lot of good things today," Saban said after practice. "I think there were a lot of good things out there. I thought the intensity was good. There was a lot of good hitting. We tried to play a little bit more physically on the line of scrimmage. Offensively I thought we were pretty consistent in terms of what we did. We moved the ball effectively and with balance in the run and pass. Both quarterbacks played equally well. Both of them got opportunities and both of them I thought did a really nice job out there and in the game."
With offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien’s departure to the NFL, Alabama fans are eager and excited to see what new offensive coordinator Tommy Rees can do to what most thought was an under-performing offense last season. Rees won’t be making drastic changes to the Alabama offense, but given his background, he should bring back a more dynamic running attack that will provide more balance to the Crimson Tide offense, and it seems that he did just that in Friday’s scrimmage.
"Offense was great today,” Saban said. “Tommy does a great job with the players. Players like him. He’s taken our system and pretty much used our system that we use, added some things to it. I think the offensive line has done a good job. We’ve got a few more multiples in terms of how we can run the ball. Does a really good job with formations and how to use formations to create advantages for us on offense. I’m really pleased with what we’ve been able to do on that side of the ball and how we’ve developed."
Inconsistency from the wide receivers was an issue with last year’s team and is no doubt a focus point in the spring. With Jermaine Burton returning for another year, he should provide some experience, but JUCO transfer Malik Benson should give the Crimson Tide the deep ball threat that can take the top off the defense and give Alabama another big play-maker.
"I think Burton made some big plays today. Ja’Corey Brooks made some big plays today. Benson’s had a really, really good spring and is capable of stretching the field and making big plays. Good all-around player. He certainly is going to help us. Isaiah Bond has had a really good spring and has done a really good job. So receiver corps has developed really nicely. Consistency in performance is what we need to continue to work on," the coach outlined.
Every year, the idea of scrimmaging against another school is brought up as opposed to scrimmaging against your own team, but nothing ever comes of it. This year, Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze weighed in on the idea of Alabama and Auburn playing in-state schools such as Troy or UAB and having the proceeds go to a charity in Alabama.
Saban was asked about his thoughts on this proposal, and he didn’t completely rule it out.
"I didn’t know anything about that,” Saban said. “We’re always interested in helping people any way that we can. If that’s the purpose of what they’re doing, that’s certainly a good thing and we try to do a lot of things to create opportunities for people in our foundation and will continue to do that. If there’s something along those lines in the spring game that would be helpful to somebody, I think it’s a great idea."
Alabama will resume spring practice Monday, April 10, with another closed scrimmage scheduled for Saturday, April 15 and A-Day set for April 22.
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