Alabama has led the nation the previous two years in fewest yards allowed, but Saban watched his defense get torched Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The good news for Saban: It was his own offense that set the fire.
“There were some really good things in the scrimmage, probably, mostly, offensively,” Saban said afterward.
According to statistics provided by Alabama’s athletics communications department, starting quarterback AJ McCarron completed 23 of 28 passes for 319 yards and five touchdowns, covering 36, 55, 18, 3 and 12 yards. Backup Blake Sims completed 10 of 15 for 183 yards and a pair of touchdowns that went for 22 and 63 yards. Parker McLeod (23 yards) and Alex Morris (10 yards) each threw a touchdown. The Tide defense didn’t intercept a pass.
Amari Cooper caught six passes for 108 yards and four touchdowns, giving him nine catches for 228 yards and five touchdowns in the two scrimmages combined. Chris Black made 10 receptions for 113 yards, and Christion Jones added five catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.
T.J. Yeldon ran 14 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns, followed by Derrick Henry (17 rushes for 79 yards) and Kenyan Drake (12 for 71).
Alabama ran about 140 plays in about two hours of work.
“AJ had a really good day,” Saban said. “We ran the ball effectively, thought the offensive line played pretty well. We had some receivers step up and make some plays. We didn’t have a lot of dropped balls.
“Defensively, we’ve got quite a few guys banged up so we’ve got a lot of new guys in a lot of places. I don’t think we tackled real well and I don’t think we probably played the kind of responsibility football that we need to, so we definitely have a lot of things that we can correct on that side of the ball.”
Starting inside linebacker Trey DePriest is out with a fractured right foot. Returning All-America linebacker C.J. Mosley isn’t cleared for contact, although he is practicing and wearing a black jersey, which means he is supposed to stay out of contact. Backup cornerback John Fulton (turf toe) is out, too.
In addition, Saban revealed after the scrimmage starting outside linebacker Xzavier Dickson sat out Saturday because of a bruised knee cap.
“I don’t think anything that happened out there is something that can’t be corrected,” Saban said. “I just think the players have to have the right attitude about getting it corrected.”
Redshirt freshman linebacker Ryan Anderson and sophomore outside linebacker Denzell Devall each had six tackles. Devall also had a sack. Junior safety HaHa Clinton-Dix added six tackles.
Senior Deion Belue, who started all 14 games last year at cornerback, had five tackles and a sack.
Belue drew the most praise of the cornerbacks, as Saban said he has had a good spring.
As for the cornerbacks as a group, he said, “We gave up too many big plays, I think. We actually made some improvement in some areas, and I think that’s a work in progress. Everybody at that position needs to continue to improve and we’ve just got to play a little smarter.”
In special teams work, Saban indicated it went better than the previous scrimmage last week.
“I thought our specialists did a pretty good job on special teams in terms of being able to execute,” he said. “Cody (Mandell) punted the ball fairly well and we had a couple of missed field goals but they were fairly long field goals but made most of what we were supposed to make.”
Saban said he still is searching for consistency.
“It seems like one day one side of the ball plays pretty well, the next day the next side plays pretty well,” he said. “I guess that’s got to be the case when you’re practicing against each other. But, fundamentally, you’d like to see everybody do things the right way, show up in the right place and show the ability to make the plays that we need to make.”