"I thought we had a really good first scrimmage," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "The goal of the scrimmage was to get a lot of players opportunities so that we could evaluate. There were a lot of good things out there today." "The ones on both sides of the ball did a decent job," Saban said. "The first offense played pretty well but didn’t finish a couple drives. Eddie Lacy did a good job. He had limited reps. We only wanted him to have six or eight carries, and he had eight carries. AJ (McCarron) played pretty well. The first defense played decently."
Saban praised both the first offense and the first defense for its efforts, but described the establishment of quality depth "the most critical thing." "How would they go out there and compete, which is a combination of ability to sustain effort, play with mental and physical toughness," Saban said. "... Obviously with the young players, they'll be a little behind in that regard. But if they do the other things, they're definitely worth continuing to try to develop and coach."
Alabama scrimmaged for a little more than two hours Saturday afternoon, running about 125 plays. According to statistics provided by the university’s media relations department, AJ McCarron completed 19 of 29 passes for 222 yards and one touchdown. He found freshman Amari Cooper on a 6-yard scoring strike and another 44-yard completion while Kevin Norwood hauled in the long pass of the day with a 45-yard catch. Eddie Lacy led in rushing with 57 yards on eight carries. He also caught a scrimmage-best five passes for 25 yards. Norwood led all receivers with 61 yards on two catches. Cooper was next with three receptions for 52 yards.
Shortly after junior-college transfer cornerback Travell Dixon decided to leave the Crimson Tide for "personal reasons," sophomore safety Jarrick Williams tore the anterior cruciate ligament in one of his knees, coach Nick Saban said after Saturday's scrimmage, Alabama's first of the preseason. Neither player was close to landing a starting role. Dixon had recently fallen behind fellow junior-college transfer Deion Belue and junior John Fulton in the battle to start opposite Dee Milliner while Williams was considered a "core special teams player" who was ready to be a "solid back-up," Saban said. Regardless of their standing on the depth chart, the players' complete removal from it will ultimately cause some shake-up. "We are going to have some young guys in the secondary who are going to have to be back-up players," Saban said. "And they're probably going to have to have some roles."
Q: Was last season what you envisioned?
A: Coming here I knew we were capable of a national championship. Then we started playing and I thought, 'Man, we're really about to do this.' It's the way that we practice, and the things that we do is different than everywhere else. So I knew we were going to be good.
A season-ending knee injury to backup safety Jarrick Williams radically changed training camp for true freshman Eddie Williams. The 6-foot-3, 204-pounder from Panama City was moved from wide receiver to safety and worked at that position during Saturday’s first scrimmage of training camp at Bryant-Denny Stadium. While scrimmage are generally an opportunity for players to go full speed, Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban indicated there was nothing game-like or speedy about Eddie Williams’ work on Saturday. "I mean, we’re telling him what to do every play," Saban said after the scrimmage. "We just moved him there yesterday. He had one practice there last night. … It’s really not fair to make any kind of evaluation because he doesn’t even know how to do this stuff. "We’re telling him what to do, but we haven’t really taught him how to do it or why it’s important to do it that way."
Alabama used all three of its kickers -- Jeremy Shelley, Cade Foster and highly touted freshman Adam Griffith -- on field goals during Saturday's scrimmage and "they all did a pretty decent job," Saban said. "They all had good kicks and bad kicks," Saban said. "The evaluation of those three guys is going to be ongoing, as well as the kickoffs."
Saban said he wants every one of his players to "evaluate who you are." "Don't make any comparisons to anybody else," Saban said. "Just evaluate where you are, decide where you want to go and decide what you need to do. Let's decide what you need to do to get there, so we can help every player gets to where he needs to be and wants to be and we need him to be."
"Phillip Ely probably showed that he has a little more knowledge and experience, managed the game a little bit better, executed a little bit better," Saban said. "You know, the freshman played like a freshman. He got a little bit rattled out there, had a hard time managing the huddle, got a little bit antsy in the pocket sometimes."
"Certainly there are some good players at quarterback, but there are also some assumptions that there's going to be really good quarterback play with some players that haven't played all that much," said Tom Luginbill, ESPN's national recruiting analyst and a former quarterbacks coach. "While there could be some excitement and some increased productivity, the jury is still out to some degree until we start seeing these guys play on a full-time basis."
Brooke Pancake, who led the Alabama women's golf team to its first national championship in May, has become the first Alabama student-athlete to be named the Capital One Academic All-America of the Year. She also is the first female golfer from any school to win the award. The winner each year is selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). "It is extremely humbling to be selected as the top student-athlete across all sports for my senior year," Pancake said in an Alabama news release.
When LSU dismissed All-America defensive back Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu on Friday, a quick check of player Twitter accounts that afternoon showed that only one player had posted anything about the former Bengal Tiger. It was Cooper, and his post appeared innocent enough: "As an Alabama wideout I wish the honey badger would’ve still been on that team." Stanfield said it’s clear to her the players are following some guidelines. "It really makes me proud because I’ve been following several Bama players and I haven’t seen any of them get out of line like I have players from other teams. Whatever Coach Saban’s policy is to his team, they obviously follow it."
8/11 Practice - Images by TideSports Photo