Alabama Scrimmage Report: First Impression

Jonathan Fravel@jfravel135Senior Analyst IAugust 16, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 02:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks down in the first half while taking on the Utah Utes during the 75th Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 2, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

What can be gleaned from the statistics released from the Saturday scrimmage at Bryant Denny?

The numbers will be used to evaluate progress from the start of summer camp eight days ago up to this point. It will take more than statistics to see what is in store for the players and coaches over the next few weeks, in particular, Saban and Company's evaluation of the film.

In the meantime, let's review what the data reveals.

1. Greg McElroy (17 for 29, 188 yards, one TD, zero Int) will be the player at the helm of the offense. This was no secret but the outing confirms that he is doing an excellent job running McElwian's gameplan. GMac was a standout at the Manning camp and is continuing to excel, to the great pleasure of Nick Saban. There will be no QB surprises against VT unless McElroy suffers an unexpected injury. That would be really bad luck for the Crimson Tide.

2. Thomas Darrah (5 for 11, 109 yards, two TD no Int), walk-on from Newnan, GA, is continuing to push Star Jackson (5-13, 40 yards, zero TD, one Int) as QB2. Darrah has proven to have a strong and accurate arm for the long ball, and might be on scholarship before the end of the season if Jackson can't get the job done as McElroy's back-up. AJ McCarron (6-14, 21 yds, zero TD, one Int) is a work in progress and will probably redshirt in 2009. Let's wait until the second scrimmage to be more confident of what is to happen in this regard.

3. Alabama will run the ball and run with authority. They will ground and pound but if these backs get into the open, they will gobble up yardage quickly. Ingram (17 carries, 55 yards, three TD) is a brute and loves to punish. Upchurch (four rushes, 17 yards) is getting a chance to play. Saban knows that Upchurch is an effective power back, and has break- away speed; caution will prevail until the season opener because of a prior neck injury requiring surgery in the off-season.

4. Terry Grant (eight rush, 18 yards) will have to separate from the freshmen or his playing time will be limited to special teams. Expect Lacy and Richardson to push for the third back position and get more reps in the second scrimmage with the first team offense.

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5. Julio Jones is special. six receptions, 100 yds, one TD.

6. WR position is loaded, with really good, but not great, talent. Any of the following can and will contribute to the success of the offense in 2009:

Norwood (three rec, 60 yards), Hanks (four rec, 73 yards), Alexander (three rec, 46 yards). McCoy (three rec, 29 yards) and Gibson (one rec, one TD). Conspicuously absent from the statistics is Michael Bowman. Also, no mention of Bowman in the post scrimmage presser. M. Maze did get honorable mention. He will be a factor in the McElwain offense.

7. Tight Ends run blocked a lot in this scrimmage. Run blocking will be a deciding factor as to who will get the bulk of playing time at the tight end position. They can all catch and run.

8.The defense will be tougher to score against and the blitz package will be expanded. Eryk Anders (four tackles, three sacks, three TFL) has the speed and agility to make this happen. He is a Juwan Simpson prototype with a better supporting cast.

9. Marcel Dareus (five tackles, two sacks, two TFL) adds to defensive team speed and will get significant playing time, especially on third downs.

10. Saban has three safeties he can count on to make tackles when needed. Baron (four tackles), Green (five tackles) and Woodall (five tackles) will give the defense confidence to stunt and take risks knowing the safety has their backs if they miss.

11. The linebackers will get the job done. McClain (eight tackles) and Hightower (seven tackles, two TFL, one sack, one PBU) will punish the opposing offenses from the middle and strong side while Reamer and Anders will provide pressure by speed at the edge. Jerrell Harris and Tana Patrick may get a chance to play but at this point, not likely to replace last years LBs.

12. Coach Saban has no depth chart. That's all there is to it, for now.


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