First teams are first-team for a reason. The University of Alabama scrimmaged for the first time this spring at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday, and that message came through clearly enough from coach Nick Saban's very first comment. "Our first units really sort of dominated the scrimmage and played well and showed maturity and a competitive spirit that we need to be successful," Saban said. "I think the biggest thing is we need more players to understand what it takes to win."
Saban's praise of the offense came to a halt when it pertained to the running game. Without Eddie Lacy (turf toe) and Blake Sims (hip), redshirt freshman Dee Hart emerged as Saturday's leader on the ground with 32 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown. Ben Howell, Jalston Fowler and T.J. Yeldon combined for 85 yards on 25 attempts. Saban called the first-team offense's execution "pretty good," but said the rest of it was "sloppy at times."
"Everybody should understand that Phillip Sims has a very sore shoulder," coach Nick Saban said. "There's nothing structurally wrong with it. It'd be the equivalent of having bursitis in your shoulder." A shot didn't seem to help. "We wanted to limit his reps so that he got some work, but yet he probably really couldn't throw the ball 25 yards down the field," Saban said. "We gave him some turns out there where he got game-like situations - get the signal, call the plays, run the offense - but he was just limited in what he could do."
The wide receivers were led by sophomore Christion Jones, who caught seven passes for 83 yards and two scores. Kenny Bell also caught a touchdown to go with three catches for 68 yards. Kevin Norwood caught four balls for 50 yards. Saban said he’s been impressed with the unit's ability to get on the same page as McCarron, and added that one freshman receiver has stood out to him. "I think Amari Cooper has shown a lot of ability as an incoming freshman," Saban said of his rookie receiver. "He'’s still feeling his way sometimes and trying to learn.
No one expected Nick Saban to say his team is ready for Michigan after Saturday’s first scrimmage of spring practice – and he didn’t – but the coach seemed pleasantly surprised with parts of what he saw. "The defense made some interceptions and big plays, and we made some big plays on offense, as well," Saban said. "I thought this first scrimmage was better, maybe, than I anticipated in some ways." What he liked was not a surprise. The veteran players, particularly returning starters, "dominated" the day, Saban said.
Jeremy Shelley was good on four-of-four, two from 38 yards, one from 33, and one from 18. Cade Foster was good on three-of-four, making from 44, 27, and 17. The one that was blocked was a 54-yard try. Cody Mandell punted nine times for a 42.6 yards per kick average with a long of 51.
Through two weeks of spring practices, Williams was still adjusting to the "close quarters" of being the middle lineman in the three-down packages. It’s about feeling his way through the transition. "I try to rush as much as I can from nose as I did from out," said Williams who had shared a sack among his 24 tackles last season. "I’m still trying to work out the kinks at a different position, but as I get more comfortable playing nose full time I’ll try to get more of a pass rush."
So when the Football Four arrives, whether in 2013 or 2014, will it be bigger than basketball's Final Four? It depends on how you look at it. As a live event, it won't compare. It would be possible, if the BCS wanted, to have both semifinals at the same site, but it would be a logistical nightmare. Whether the semifinals are played on campus sites or at existing bowl sites, you won't have all four teams in the same city, which is one of the charms of the Final Four, and one of the reasons why Saturday's semifinals (like Kentucky-Louisville) are usually - not always, but often - more compelling than Monday night's final.
Approximately 33,000 fans came out to Tiger Stadium on Saturday to see if LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is for real. LSU Coach Les Miles gave him several opportunities to show it. After four years of mediocre and inconsistent quarterback play from Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson, Miles is talking about the Tigers playing with a stronger hand behind center. Mettenberger had three completions of at least 49 yards and hit on 14 of 25 throws for 270 yards and two touchdowns.
Whatever the internal requirements were that Da’Rick Rogers had to complete, the Tennessee receiver returned to the practice field Saturday after missing Thursday’s workout. "It was something he had to, he did it and he’s back," coach Derek Dooley said after practice. "He’s doing good. He had a good day out there today. He had good energy, did a good job covering punts a couple times. "He’s obviously an extremely talented player. Glad he took care of what he had to do."
For the second time in as many days, a player informed coach Mark Richt he was unhappy with his role on the team and is seeking a transfer. Marc Deas, a redshirt sophomore safety from Kissimmee, Fla., has decided to quit the team due to lack of playing time and is seeking a transfer, Richt said Saturday. Deas joins junior defensive lineman Derrick Lott, who made a similar decision less than 24 hours earlier.
Georgia held its first formal scrimmage of the spring Saturday at Sanford Stadium. And while the defense dominated as it has been throughout, there were some positive signs for the offense. Namely, Jay Rome. The redshirt freshman tight end from Valdosta got loose for two touchdowns, including a leaping grab in the corner of the end zone that had coaches and players buzzing long after the two-hour scrimmage concluded.
The high school football coach of Karl "K.J." Malone Jr., son of, yes, former NBA great Karl Malone, confirmed to ESPN.com Saturday that the offensive lineman gave a verbal committment to LSU this afternoon. The younger Malone gave the Tigers coaching staff the verbal thumbs up shortly after the spring game earlier today.
Despite her best efforts, Luttrell’s quest to become the first female place kicker in school history fell short during a 10-person walk-on tryout on Virginia Tech’s practice field. The freshman said she made seven of her eight field goals, but the coaching staff was looking for more power out of her kicks.