Alabama Morning Drive: What Nick Saban said following the Tide’s first scrimmage of fall camp

·8 min read

Good morning, Tide fans! Welcome to our Monday edition of Alabama Morning Drive. I hope each of you had a fantastic weekend as we continue to inch closer and closer to the start of the 2022 college football season.

On Saturday, head coach Nick Saban and the Alabama football team went inside Bryant Denny Stadium to participate in the first scrimmage of fall camp.

As is customary, coach Saban addressed members of the media following the scrimmage to provide some quick commentary on the events of the day.

Let’s take a few moments this morning to quickly recap what coach Saban had to say about the scrimmage and the progress he has seen so far through fall camp.

On the offensive line

Offensive lineman JC Latham (65) works against offensive lineman Kendall Randolph (60) as Crimson Tide players work on drills in practice Monday, Aug. 9, 2021. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]
Alabama Practice

“Well, it’s really hard to evaluate, but I thought the first offensive line was improved. I thought the second offensive line struggled. Struggled in protection, struggled to run the ball. But I was encouraged by the running backs and some of the plays that they were able to make, some of the runs that they were able to run. So I would say all in all I thought the first line made some improvement. I thought the second line struggled a little bit at times, but I think every unit had its ups and downs. And I think that’s what I’m talking about when I talk about maintaining consistency.”

On what situational drills they worked on during the scrimmage

White team quarterback Bryce Young (9) rolls away from pressure during Alabama’s spring NCAA college football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium, Saturday, April 17, 2021, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Gary Cosby/The Tuscaloosa News via AP)

“Well, we did move the field like a game probably for 25 plays for the first offense, 25 plays for the second offense, same thing for the defensive guys. We did a third down period. We did a red zone period. We did a goal line period. We did a coming-out period. We actually did a fastball period and two-minute period. So those are all the situations we covered. But the first 50-something plays, the threes also got an opportunity in move the field-type situations. So I think those are things that give you more of the flow of the game. And I think in the next scrimmage, we’ll want the scrimmage to be more game-like.”

On the struggles in short-yardage situations last season

Jan 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Seth McLaughlin (56) and Javion Cohen (70) against the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

“Well, we haven’t really worked on short yardage a whole lot up to this point. I don’t disagree with you. You know, there were times we had first-and-three at the three and struggled to run it. There were times we had short-yardage situations, but I think we had to do a lot of self-evaluation in the offseason. Quality control on what we do, how we create ways to run the ball effectively against eight-man fronts, which is what you get in those situations, and not allow them to force us to throw the ball but have enough confidence that we can get enough movement to gain a yard or two. I think that’s something that we want to get better at.”

On the Tide wide receiver's

ARLINGTON, TEXAS – DECEMBER 31: Ja’Corey Brooks #7 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates his touchdown against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the second quarter in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic for the College Football Playoff semifinal game at AT&T Stadium on December 31, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

“We were inconsistent at receiver today. We made some really good plays. We dropped some balls. I think Kobe Prentice, probably of the young guys, I think he had like five catches. He was probably the guy that stood out the most of the young players. But each and every day, there’s a different guy that shows that they have some ability to do some things in a really positive way. So I think if I was gonna evaluate the group, I would say we all need to play with more consistency. We got to get at quarterback really comfortable with the receivers that we’re gonna play with in the spots they’re going to play. That’s got to be a goal for us in the coming weeks.”

On the current tight end room without Cameron Latu

Alabama tight end Robbie Ouzts (45) warms up before an NCAA college football game against Mercer, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

“Well, we miss Cam. No doubt. He’s a very good player and has a lot of experience and a multi-faceted guy. He’s a pretty good receiver. He’s a good athlete. He’s got pretty good speed. He’s a good blocker. So all the other tight ends that we have right now other than Robbie Ouzts, who is a little more of an H-type of guy, they’re all young players. There’s probably a lot of anxiety out there with a lot the young players today, first scrimmage. So I can’t evaluate them just based on what I saw today.

“We do have some guys that can be effective pass-catchers, but I think that all young players have a long way to go to really understand the things they need to do, in the passing game especially, which takes a lot more precision so that they can get open, they can read the coverages, they can be on the same page with the quarterback. So that’s a work in progress with the young guys.”

On the kick returners during the scrimmage

Jan 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Kool-Aid McKinstry (1) against the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

“Kool-Aid (McKinstry) did a nice job on punt return. We’re working with some other people back there. Burton is back there, I’ve got a lot of confidence in him in punt return. I think Emmanuel Henderson can be a dynamic returner. I think Tyler Harrell can do kickoff returns — probably not a punt returner. So I think we’ve got some guys that are capable. I just think we sort of have to continue to try to develop and see who comes to the forefront.”

On the defense in the scrimmage

Sep 18, 2021; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Jamil Burroughs (98) celebrates a stop with linebacker Henry To’o To’o (10) against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

“The defense started out playing fairly well. Disappointed in the way we played in the red zone and the goal line, made some mistakes on third down, so when our energy level and our intensity is good and we communicate well, we seem to play pretty well together. As things sort of move along in the scrimmage and those things start to dissipate a little bit, we probably don’t execute as well as we could and gave up a couple of plays that — we’re really better. We shouldn’t give up those kind of plays.”

On inside linebacker depth behind Henry To'oTo'o

Nov 13, 2021; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Jaylen Moody (42) reacts after returning a blocked punt by the New Mexico State Aggies at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

“Jaylen Moody has done a really good job at that position. We’ve got several young guys that we continue to work with and, you know, there’s a lot of volume of information that they’ve gotten and we do pretty big installs. The offense has done pretty big installs, so they see a lot of different things and they have to learn a lot of different things, so it’ll be interesting to see how those guys sort of develop this week. But nobody’s disappointed, but I’d say [that] a lot of the young ones are swimming a little bit.”

On the cornerbacks in the scrimmage

Alabama defensive back Terrion Arnold (12) runs back a punt during warmups prior to their NCAA college football game against Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. Alabama won 49-9. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

“Kool-Aid did OK. Terrion Arnold has done a really good job so far in camp. Eli Ricks is still trying to learn the defense so he can go out there and play with confidence. Khyree (Jackson) is out, so he didn’t participate today, with a groin injury. Hopefully, it won’t keep him out long. Some of the young players are coming along. We moved Antonio Kite to corner, which I think is a natural position for him. He’s done a pretty good job there.

“I’m sure that if you ask them, they’d all say there’s something that they need to improve on. When I watch the film, I’m sure I will be talking to them about what they need to improve on, as well. But I think the big thing is keeping people cut off, don’t give up big plays. That’s gotta be a critical piece for what we have to do at the corner position.”

That is going to wrap up our Monday edition of Alabama Morning Drive. Make sure you stay tuned to Roll Tide Wire for all the latest on the Crimson Tide!

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Story originally appeared on Roll Tide Wire