Alabama fifth-year senior quarterback Blake Sims completed 16 of 23 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns Saturday afternoon during the Crimson Tide's first spring scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Sims had a 75-yard scoring strike to junior receiver Amari Cooper, who caught five passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns. Alabama practiced for just over two hours, with the scrimmage consisting of about 125 plays.
"For a first scrimmage, I was really pleased with the effort and the intensity that the players had," coach Nick Saban said at his news conference. "I really like the attitude of this team in terms of how they go about what they try to do, how they work, the effort that they give and the mental and physical toughness that we play with. A lot of guys are trying to be conscientious to do a good job, and I think that it shows in the way we play and the way we compete.
"The togetherness on the team is to me a lot better. I said at the beginning that this team is starting over, and I like the leadership."
Sims has thrown for just 244 yards the past three seasons while backing up AJ McCarron. The 6-foot, 208-pounder from Gainesville, Ga., was called "a work in progress" by Saban earlier this spring due to his dual-threat capabilities in a pro-style offense, but Saban had some different comments Saturday.
"Blake has done a really good job this spring and has taken some command," he said, adding that redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman and redshirt sophomore Alec Morris also have produced some separation from redshirt freshman Parker McLeod and early enrollee David Cornwell.
Bateman was 14-of-25 for 102 yards in the scrimmage, while Morris was 9-of-12 for 57 yards.
Junior Kenyan Drake had the best statistical day among the Tide's top three tailbacks, rushing 11 times for 60 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Derrick Henry had 12 carries for 40 yards, while junior T.J. Yeldon rushed seven times for 20 yards and a touchdown.
Senior inside linebacker Trey DePriest led the defense with eight tackles. Two other linebackers, Denzel Devall and Reggie Ragland, combined for 10 tackles, including two for lost yardage for Devall.
Touted freshman cornerback Tony Brown, one of Alabama's eight early enrollees, recently fell over a hurdle in track and injured the same shoulder he hurt in January at the Under Armour All-American Game.
"I'm not sure how much more track he'll do this spring," Saban said. "We do have a schedule, and it's just what he's able to do. He's done a good job of managing both of those things."
Sophomore Eddie Jackson, whom Saban called the "most consistent corner" this spring, injured his knee Saturday after coming down awkwardly and has an MRI scheduled for today. ... Sophomore inside linebacker Reuben Foster suffered a neck stinger and was unable to finish the scrimmage. ... Saban said senior receiver DeAndrew White will not practice the rest of the spring due to a toe injury. ... The Crimson Tide will return to practice Monday.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.