Spring Practice: Sixth Day News And Notes

The Crimson Tide held its first scrimmage of the Spring this afternoon in Bryant-Denny Stadium. A few news, notes, and thoughts now that the dust has settled on scrimmage number one.

  • For those of you who had your heart set on watching John Parker Wilson be unseated as the starting quarterback, it wasn't a good day for you. Granted, Wilson didn't have a spectacular day, but it's fairly clear that he is heads and shoulders above the rest of the quarterbacks on the roster. Greg McElroy certainly had his opportunity to impress as he threw twenty-four passes, but he had a terrible day, completing barely twenty-five percent of his passes, averaging barely two -- yes, two -- yards per attempt, and throwing four interceptions. Nick Fanuzzi didn't fare any better. He played only against the third string defense, and actually walk-on Thomas Darrah had more passing attempts than he did. At this point, there is simply no evidence whatsoever to make one objectively think that Wilson is in danger of losing this job. As I said before Spring, with all of his faults, it's pretty unlikely that we have someone who can legitimately beat out Wilson.
  • Nothing major happened today in the running game. Terry Grant and Roy Upchurch split carries pretty evenly, which is about what was expected. Unfortunately, neither of those two guys did anything particularly special from the looks of things, and seemingly didn't do a whole lot to further their case for being the guy. I guess it just goes to show we some people still regard Glen Coffee to be the front-runner at tailback, even though he is sitting on the sideline.
  • Nothing particularly noteworthy, either, happened with the wide receivers. Both Mike McCoy and Darius Hanks had pretty good days, neither of which should be shocking, but Coach Saban specifically pointed out today in his comments today that we had too many drops. Nikita Stover did not participate today, and that opened up the door for McCoy and Hanks. Being brutally honest, it's probably a fight for the third receiver position. Stover is seemingly the top receiver on the current roster when he is healthy, and the other starting wide receiver was probably down in Foley today at Lamberts munching on the thowed rolls.
  • Lorenzo Washington, by all accounts, had a great day. Just perusing the statistics, he had four tackles, two sacks, a pass broken up, and a tackle for a loss, and he was also mentioned a few times in particular as having good performance this afternoon. The truth of the matter is that you can just take all of that talk of Washington moving to end, wad it up, and throw it into the garbage pile. Though Washington will never be a particularly big tackle by 3-4 standards, he has apparently mastered the art of using his quickness and leverage to take control of the line of scrimmage. As long as Washington stays healthy, we look to be pretty good in the middle.
  • Cory Reamer also had a nice day. He had been working with the starters at linebacker, filling in for Zeke Knight at the outside linebacker spot while he continues to be sidelined, and he performed quite nicely today. All told, Reamer racked up a couple of tackles, and also had a sack and an interception. If you will recall correctly, Reamer came to Alabama as a safety and fared well early on as a freshman. Unfortunately, a torn ACL in his left knee slowed him, and he moved to linebacker with Saban. He's bulked up a fair amount, and he's playing pretty well. He's still a bit small for a 3-4 linebacker -- and will probably struggle a fair amount against linemen who make their way to the second level -- but his natural athleticism and his history at safety will make him not only a factor as a possible pass rusher, but also as a cover guy.
  • Lionell Mitchell and Tremayne Coger missed the scrimmage today. And we finally found out what was wrong with Mitchell. According to Coach Saban, he has been fighting a nerve problem in his lower back, and it is something that has plagued him since the end of last season.
  • With Mitchell and Coger out, plus the continued iffiness of Marquis Johnson, someone had to step up at corner, and someone did. Javier Arenas has moved from working mainly at safety and is now at corner, and having a great Spring to boot. In today's scrimmage Arenas racked up four tackles and two interceptions, and he looks to be the front-runner for the starting cornerback job opposite Kareem Jackson. That's pretty good news for us, to put it mildly. We needed someone to step up, and Lord knows Arenas has all of the athleticism you would ever need. And it may just be his job. Don't forget, Kareem Jackson came in last year and quickly snagged a starting job in the Spring, and never gave it up. Arenas may very well do something similar.
  • In other injury news, Bryan Motley broke a finger today in the scrimmage. Oddly enough, he also broke a finger last Fall in a scrimmage, though I'm not sure it is the same digit. Either way, it will require surgery to insert a pin, and he may very well not return this Spring. If not, I suppose we will go back to the drawing board in our attempts to find someone else at defensive end. I'm afraid that -- given Motley has broken his hand twice, and also broken his ankle in the past eight months -- we cannot really count on Motley's durability at this point.
  • Travis Sikes also suffered a pretty serious injury today when he broke an elbow during the scrimmage. How long he will be out is hard to say. The elbow is actually a joint that is composed of three separate bones, so all things designated as "broken elbows" are not created equal. And then you can also get ligament damage involved, too. It's all pretty complicated. At the very least, he's probably going to be out two or three months, and he won't return the rest of Spring. He'll probably miss a bit of the summer S&C program to boot. Sikes had been splitting time at both wide receiver and DB this Spring, and though he wasn't seemingly headed for any major amounts of playing time, you never want to see anyone get hurt.
  • Leigh Tiffin continues to be the front-runner at placekicker, which is expected. He missed a couple of long field goals today, but also made two long ones, and a short one as well. Corey Smith made one short kick and missed another short kick. It's nothing too shocking honestly. Tiffin pretty much has the placekicker job sewn up, even with a scholarship kicker on the roster, and if Smith is going to get any legitimate playing time now, it's going to be as a punter and on kick-offs.
  • Finally, to clarify one thing, Luther Davis was reported in some circles to not have been at practice yesterday. Only one problem... he was there, and participated fully. Saban was asked about it today, and quickly shot back. It was pretty easy to see that he was perturbed by such idiotic, and obviously false, reports.
Well, that will do it for today. Practice will resume on Monday afternoon, and though I would assume we will be in shorts and spider pads, with the ol' Nicktator you never know. The Alabama Coaching Clinic -- feature New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick -- will take place April 3rd through 5th. The Tide will scrimmage for the second time this Spring next Saturday, one week from today, in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
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