Following Friday’s first spring scrimmage, Nick Saban gave a progress report on some key spots, including quarterback, where Alabama has question marks. No stats were released on the QBs, but Saban gave a general assessment of the candidates.

“We sort of rotated all the quarterbacks today, so it was probably little bit more difficult for one guy to get into a rhythm,” Saban said. “They all played probably a similar number of plays — thirty or forty plays apiece. All of them did some good things and all of them had some things to improve on.”
Senior Jake Coker entered spring as the early favorite at quarterback.
“I’m really pleased with the way Jake has sort of practiced, but we’ve just got to get him to where he feels comfortable and confident and in sync in with the receivers so that we can execute a little bit better on a more consistent basis,” Saban said. “It’s not all on him. It’s on all of us to get that.”
“I think the biggest thing is he’s more comfortable with the system,” Saban said of Coker. “He’s playing with more confidence. I just think the system we’re playing now is better suited for him in terms of what we’re putting on him to do. We’re actually playing in the gun a little bit more, which is probably more suited for him.”
When mentioning the other quarterbacks, Saban started with redshirt freshman David Cornwell, followed by junior Alec Morris and then true freshman Blake Barnett. He said all were doing a “pretty good job” this spring.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Cooper Bateman continues to get some reps at receiver.
“He was doing well at quarterback,” Saban said. “We have not moved him from quarterback. He still takes reps at quarterback. I just thought maybe we could create a role that might be beneficial to our team and may be beneficial to him, because he’s such a good athlete. He had really good measurables when we tested everybody. If we rated the top 50 athletes on our team, he’d probably be one of them. So now is the time to find out if he could contribute at another position.”

Another key spot is wide receiver, where the Tide is replacing its starting corps from last season, including All-American Amari Cooper.
Junior Raheem Falkins led the group today with five catches for 88 yards. Sophomore ArDarius Stewart had three grabs for 55 yards with a touchdown. Sophomore Robert Foster had three for 52 with a touchdown. Junior tight end O.J. Howard added two catches for 58 yards with a touchdown.
“Our receivers just need to learn to pay attention to detail and learn how important it is to do the little things right so that we’re all on the same page in the passing game,” Saban said.

Up front, Bama is replacing three starters. The first unit on Friday included left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Ross Pierschbacher, center Ryan Kelly, right guard Bradley Bozeman and right tackle Dominick Jackson.
“We’re really pleased with the two tackles,” Saban said. “Cam and Dominick have really done a good job this spring. Ryan Kelly has done a good job this spring. (Ross) Pierschbacher has done a good job this spring. Those guys have really made progress. Then we’ve got another four or five guys in the pile kind of competing for the rest of the positions. Bozeman probably has the most experience.
“I think depth there is critical. Brandon Greene is now playing there. J.C. Hassenauer has made progress as the backup center.
“I think there’s work to do, but I really do think that those four guys (Robinson, Pierschbacher, Kelly and Jackson) have sort of separated themselves and we need the other guys to play with more consistency to have the offensive line we want to have. Depth is going to be a huge issue for as we develop our young players.”
Junior left guard Shank Taylor (knee) sat out of the scrimmage but should return next week.

Near the end of the scrimmage, freshman running back Bo Scarbrough was carted off the field with a knee injury. Saban wouldn’t speculate on the extent of the injury, but indicated that Scarbrough is slated to have an MRI.
Derrick Henry led all rushers with 11 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown.
Kenyan Drake continues his impressive comeback as a running and receiving threat.
“Kenyan Drake, even though he wore a black shirt out there (and) we just tagged off of him, was very effective in some of the things he did in the running game and the passing game,” Saban said. “It was good to have him back out there.”

Defensively, Alabama is loaded up front with interior stars Jarran Reed and A’Shawn Robinson. Josh Frazier is an outstanding prospect. Outside, UA has Jonathan Allen, D.J. Pettway and Da’Shawn Hand, among others.
“The defensive front is probably the strength of our team right now,” Saban said. “I think those guys showed that today. Made it difficult to run. Created a lot of negative plays with batted balls and pressure on quarterbacks and that sort of thing.”

Coach Saban said he was “really pleased” with the inside linebackers. “Reggie (Ragland) is having a really good spring,” Saban said. “He’s really assuming a role of being a leader.
“Reuben (Foster) has had a really good spring. Shaun Dion (Hamilton) has had a really good spring. I’m really pleased with the way those guys have improved and developed.
“Keith Holcombe has really shown that he can play that position. Walker Jones has actually done a much better job this spring.
“I’m really encouraged by all five of those guys and how they’ve played.”

Perhaps the biggest question mark on defense is safety, where UA has to replace All-American and upcoming first round pick Landon Collins.
Experience is limited in the Tide’s back end. Saban was asked about the progress of true freshman early enrollee Ronnie Harrison.
“Ronnie’s a very bright guy,” Saban said. “For guy who is a new freshman in the system, he’s doing extremely well. He does have great athletic ability. Has great size and speed. He’s really done a nice job. He and Hootie (Jones). And we moved Maurice Smith in there. All of those guys are guys we feel have to develop some confidence, knowledge and experience in the system. (They) made some mental errors today, but also made some really good plays. So if we can eliminate some of those mental errors, which I think we can, I think those guys have the ability to improve and be pretty good players for us.”

Saban said that he liked the spirit and enthusiasm this team shows.
“A lot of guys giving a lot of effort,” Saban said. “I really like the sprint of how this team goes about what they do. Obviously the execution is not what we’d like for it to be on a consistent basis. A lot of good things out there. There’s also a lot of things we need to clean up.”
“I think discipline is something that is really important to this team in terms of its development,” Saban said. “Choices, decisions, how they buy in to the mission that we’re trying to accomplish (and) how the team chemistry develops is something that I think is going to be very important to this group.”

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