Those looking for extensive statistics and a detailed accounting of the quarterback battle between A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims will be disappointed, as Nick Saban continued to his prohibition on the dissemination of most scrimmage-related information this afternoon. Regarding quarterbacks, all that Saban said of substance in his post-scrimmage press conference was that both quarterbacks did well today in generating explosive plays by throwing the ball deep down the field and that both quarterbacks played "pretty evenly." For the time being the expectation is still that both quarterbacks will split snaps in the season opener against Kent State. A decision will ultimately be made at some point, but we're still seemingly at least two or three weeks away from that happening.
As was the case last week, only very limited statistics were released for the second scrimmage, and those statistics are as follows:
Trent Richardson: 7 carries, 39 yards
Eddie Lacy: 6 carries, 57 yards, 1 touchdown
Mark Barron: 6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception
Dont'a Hightower: 6 tackles, 1TFL
Courtney Upshaw: 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 PBU
C.J. Mosley: 5 tackles, 1 PBU
Statistics be damned, though, more importantly there was no discussion of any serious injuries in the aftermath of the second scrimmage, which is always the first and foremost concern. To date we have been able to avoid any significant long-term injuries in fall camp. Having said that, though, it's still a grueling process and several players are worse for wear. Dre Kirkpatrick was limited today with a leg contusion, and both Arie Kouandjio and Brandon Ivory were in black no-contact jerseys today with minor knee injuries. Again, no serious injuries to date, but fall camp is clearly taking its toll.
Generally, though, Nick Saban seemed please with the progress of the team and the overall performance this afternoon. Gone were the criticisms of the running game, and aside from a couple of complaints about untimely penalties and depth issues (more on that later), he generally seemed positive. Saban is nothing if not extremely difficult to please, so take his as a positive indicator of the overall development of the team. On the whole everyone has long since expected that Alabama would be very competitive this fall, and nothing to date in fall camp has done anything to lower that general projection.
What criticism Saban did have mainly concerned the second team. Saban mentioned several times throughout his post-scrimmage press conference that he was happy with the overall play of the first team, but felt that 'Bama had some issues at a few positions with regard to play of the second team. As was somewhat the case a year ago, there is still some shortcomings with regard to quality depth, and it seems that has not been rectified as of yet. Clearly the raw talent is there to play at a high level, but as we saw a year ago raw talent isn't everything.
The first team offensive line remained unchanged in the media viewing session with, going left to right, Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack, William Vlachos, Anthony Steen, and D.J. Fluker. The key continues to be at right guard and trying to somehow fit Barrett Jones, Anthony Steen, and Cyrus Kouandjio into two starting positions. The lack of criticism over the running game is probably a positive sign for Steen, but having said that Cyrus Kouandjio has seen his fair share of snaps as the first-team left tackle in recent days, and Barrett Jones has spent some time back at right guard. It seems apparent that no final decision has been made here, but one will be coming in the near future. Keep your eye on the practice session on Tuesday afternoon as a gauge of which we the staff may be leaning.
The sixth defensive back role also remains largely unsettled, and the staff has not tipped its hand to date as to which player will be called on when the Tide goes to the dime package. For what it's worth, Phelon Jones took snaps today at cornerback in place of Dre Kirkpatrick, so he appears to have a slight edge over sophomore John Fulton in the cornerback pecking order, but it's very hard to say at this point because Saban has used such a wide array of players in the past as the sixth defensive back (in other words, he doesn't always use a true corner) and because so many players are competing for the spot. True freshman Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix will be tough to keep off the field because of his natural ability and his versatility, but again it's very difficult to say with any degree of certainty at this point as to who will get the call against Penn State. Just like at quarterback, this may be a position where nothing definite is decided until some point later in the season.
Duron Carter was not present at the scrimmage today, but his father Cris Carter was in attendance, the third consecutive practice session for which he has attended. For what it's worth, I still have no idea as to what to make of that, if anything. Further, we here at RBR are aware of the rumors circulating to the effect that Duron Carter has been cleared and will make his first appearance on the practice fields sometime early next week. For the time being, though, I would advise caution on those rumors because no one who would be in a position to know has confirmed them yet, and similar false alarms surfaced regarding Carter's academic status earlier this fall. As I've previously written, continue to hope for the best, but keep in mind this may not end as we hope.
In other quick hitters, Michael Bowman is actually making some progress and had a long touchdown catch today, so hopefully he can shed the bust label. Marquis Maze still looks to be the frontrunner to return punts, and he could easily factor in on kickoff returns as well. Cody Mandell looks to be pulling ahead in the punting battle. Little has been said of Nico Johnson this fall, which may mean C.J. Mosley figures to get the bulk of the snaps at Will. The heat was simply cruel in Tuscaloosa this afternoon, with the heat index reaching 116 degrees at the stadium at one point. Four years after arriving in Tuscaloosa, Jerrell Harris finally looks to be the starter at Sam. John Michael Boswell took snaps as the second-team guard in the absence of Arie Kouandjio.
'Bama will be off both tomorrow and Monday, and will return to the practice fields Tuesday afternoon.