clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Insider Look at Alabama’s Second Scrimmage: Offense and Special Teams

The first of a two-part examination of Alabama’s second scrimmage

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The last scrimmage of the Fall is in the books. From this point on, the Tide will be working on fundamentals, installing playbooks, sorting out the roster and working on Florida State.

We spoke with several insiders tonight to get an exhaustive look at ‘Bama’s second, closed scrimmage. The REC prevents members from authoring pieces or sharing real-time social media posts, so all sources are by necessity anonymous. I’ve cobbled together a variety of quotes to help provide a more detailed narrative.

In this installment, offense and special teams:

Let's start with the kicking game. Saban was in much better spirits about it. What happened?

JK Scott had his first field goal attempt blocked. He did not miss any after that. Andy Pappanastos was very accurate as well. True freshman Joseph Bulovas missed a 49-yarder that got tipped. Coach Saban gave him a mulligan on that attempt and he drilled the follow-up. Scott hit a 51-yarder that would have been good from 60+. Saban said Bulovas is young and inconsistent, while the other two have maturity. We'll likely have a two-kicker system, with Scott taking the long attempts and Papp hitting the chip shots. I was expecting a nightmare, honestly. What I saw, albeit without a crowd, was anything but.

What did you see from the returners? Who was back there?

Xavian Marks took one early, but we didn't see him back there after that. It was a rotation of Trevon Diggs and Henry Ruggs. On KOs, it was both of them fielding. Nick Saban said that Ruggs would likely have a role as a returner this year.

NCAA Football: Kent State at Alabama
Xavian Marks can fly
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Switching to the offensive line, what did you see on the right side? Is Jedrick Wills as good as advertised? How was O-line play generally? What did the second unit look like?

Matt Womack started at right tackle and played a series or two, then they let Wills in. Wills also played a lot of RT with the twos. He's still raw, and he missed on a couple of stunts, but I thought he was visibly more athletic than Womack. Saban commented that Wills had quickly earned the right to battle for the starting spot. Personally, I see that as being a question of when, not if. Generally, line play wasn't bad, but not great. Alabama needs to get meaner, and they still need work in pass protection. Alex Leatherwood had a solid day protecting Tua at left tackle, though the first team right side still struggling with stacked lines and blitzes for him. I don’t know how that would translate to a right tackle spot for a righty QB.

Joshua Jacobs is slowed by a hamstring issue and Bo Scarbrough is sick. How did the depleted backfield look? Anything catch your eye in the running game?

Coach Saban said Bo should be back soon from whatever the hell he contracted. But, even though he said Josh Jacobs is "day to day;" he didn't sound very confident about that.

The run game didn't have a great day, probably due to a combination of vanilla play-calling and a defensive line that is eating running backs for lunch. Damien Harris was the same workhorse back he's always been. I'd say that Harris easily is our best option on third down to pick up the blitz. Najee Harris was hit and miss in the blocking department. He also didn't appear to be 100%, as he pulled up on his stride early on a 20-yard run — you could tell his hamstring was bothering him. He also tried to jump a safety again and ended up fumbling bc it was Ronnie. (I really hate when they try to jump a defender by the sideline, no need to risk the injury.) Brian Robinson also played a good bit. He's serviceable, but also fumbled on a long gain.

As an aside, it was great to see Ronnie Clark out there as a hybrid RB/HB/TE. He had a couple of carries and a few catches.

When asked about him, Saban effusively praised his character as a person. Went to so far as to say he'd be a success in life and that he would personally hire Clark for any job based on his perseverance and conviction of character. Apparently Clark never let it get him down, and he is a force in the locker room. Coach Saban said Ronnie is one of the most high character guys he's ever coached, and anyone would be lucky to employ him after he graduates. (Ed. note: I’ve got even money that Saban will hire Clark as a GA now.)

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Alabama
I wish life had dealt Ronnie a better hand.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Sticking with the skills players, it was a "bad day" for the offense. What were your impressions of the passing game? The receivers?

The passing game was nothing to write home about, but conversely that portends well for the secondary. Calvin Ridley had an off day, but there wasn't much of a focus on deep passing. I like the heavy rotation of obviously talented guys: The big three freshmen will definitely play -- Jerry Jeudy, Devonta Smith, Henry Ruggs III.

Cam Sims seems to be the elder Kevin Norwood type. He's overshadowed by faster player, but I'm guessing is a leader on the receiving corps. Henry Ruggs and Tua Tagovailoa have an obvious chemistry. Jerry Jeudy appeared to be nursing a sore ankle but still made a few plays. Robert Foster and Jalen Hurts seem to also have rapport. It was an off-day for Jalen, though. His footwork was shoddy, and he was overthrowing bootleg attempts.

Coach Saban hinted that the wide receivers need to work harder on their route discipline. So, some of the problems in the passing game were attributable to the wideouts and to the right side solidifying -- and the defense, of course.

Did you see any wrinkles in Brian Daboll’s scheme or play-calling worth mentioning? Also, Nick Saban has stressed the need to involve the tight ends. Was that involvement there? Did the tight ends pass the eyeball test?

Offensive Coordinators Brian Daboll and Mike Locksely trolled us on the first series with a couple of jet sweeps, but those never showed back up. The play-calling was incredibly vanilla and nothing Alabama fans have not seen over the past decade.

Miller Forristall didn't have a great day, but Irv Smith continues to impress. He's a shorter version of former-Tide tight end Michael Williams, but Smith may have a little better mobility. He has good hands and solid blocking skills.


Which of the three Freshman wide receivers mentioned herein will get a reception first?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Jerry Jeudy
    (837 votes)
  • 18%
    Henry Ruggs
    (207 votes)
  • 9%
    Devonta Smith
    (105 votes)
1149 votes total Vote Now