Now more than halfway through its spring schedule, Alabama held its first of two scrimmages Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The session was closed to the public and reporters, but Nick Saban addressed reporters after it.
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Here were the highlights:
— “I think at this point, everybody needs to be able to self-assess,” Saban said. “Did you give effort? Did you play with toughness? Did you really know what to do?”
— “We’re not disappointed in where we are. We’re certainly not where we’d like to be, or want to be, or need to be,” Saban said. He noted a lot of young players are getting opportunities, especially along the offensive line — there were three starters out — and a few defensive starters were out Saturday with injuries that are not considered serious.
— “There were some really good collisions,” Saban said, applauding his team’s effort.
— “I thought we executed OK on offense,” Saban said, noting they dropped passes and there were too many pre-snap penalties on both sides of the ball.
— Asked about wide receivers, Saban said Jermaine Burton “did a good job” and “little Aaron Anderson had a couple big plays,” Saban said, noting the freshman’s run-after-catch ability. Saban said Anderson turned a five-yard gain into a 40-yard play against the first-team defense. Saban said Traeshon Holden has been consistent all spring and JoJo Earle, Christian Leary and Thaiu Jones-Bell have all shown promise at times.
— Saban said he was the only coach allowed on the field for the scrimmage. “Most of the time the coaching points I gave were not technique-oriented,” Saban said, smiling. The point is to let players play, he said.
— “I think Bryce had a good day today,” Saban said. There were some pressures and the offensive line needs to continue to improve, Saban said.
— Saban said Jalen Milroe got a chance with the first-team defense and moved the offense pretty effectively. Saban said “everything is pretty fast” for freshman Ty Simpson right now but they are not disappointed in his progress.
— Asked about interior pass rushers, Saban said there are a couple options who could “make a difference there” but it’s not worthy of mentioning names until they prove they can do it consistently. Saban said among edge rushers, Chris Braswell, Dallas Turner and Will Anderson — who did not practice Saturday by design — all look good.
— “This team has been really good. This team doesn’t have any complainers,” Saban said. “We don’t have a lot of negative guys on this team. We have some real positive leadership.”
— Saban said he was pleased with the running backs, saying the offense is running the ball more consistently than a year ago and “hopefully we continue to build on that.” Saban said Trey Sanders rushed for 73 yards and Jahmyr Gibbs for about 55. “Both those guys did really well,” Saban said, adding they wanted each to carry about 10-12 times. Freshman Jamarion Miller also “did a nice job,” Saban said.
Mike Rodak is an Alabama beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mikerodak.