Alabama's first football scrimmage of the preseason Saturday included roughly 10 plays in which the Crimson Tide focused on stopping no-huddle offenses.
"It is hard to simulate when you're not a no-huddle team, but our team is capable of being a no-huddle team," coach Nick Saban said in his post-practice news conference. "So we practice that against each other because it's the best way we can get the best look."
Heavy rain and lightning interrupted the scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium for about 40 minutes.
Saban had not been discussing the no-huddle long when he said the media makes "way too much of this." Alabama was 11-0 last year but ended with losses at Auburn (34-28) and in the Sugar Bowl to Oklahoma (45-31), two teams that quickened the pace.
"In the last game," Saban said in reference to Auburn, "the team had 21 points against us with 30 seconds left, and I don't think anyone held them to 21 points all year long. I saw them score 60 in the SEC championship game or whatever. We shut Ole Miss (another no-huddle team) out here.
"We had four turnovers against Oklahoma that led to 28 points, and on two of them the defense never got back on the field, so there were 14 points they didn't even show up for."
Saban went on to profess that stopping the no-huddle is more of a team thing than the sole responsibility of the defense.
"How about controlling the ball on offense so they don't have the ball so much?" he said. "That's something we did in the Texas A&M game, because we didn't play very well on defense in my opinion. We didn't play very well on defense in the Oklahoma game.
"We make it out like we're horrible. We played seven no-huddle teams last year, and we didn't play as well as we should have in a couple of those games."
Junior tailback Kenyan Drake had 88 yards and a touchdown on six carries Saturday, as well as four receptions for 65 yards. Fellow junior T.J. Yeldon had four carries for 35 yards, while sophomore Derrick Henry had six for 23 and a touchdown.
Amari Cooper led the receivers, with the junior amassing five catches for 56 yards and a touchdown, while senior Christion Jones had two catches for 45 yards and a score. There were no numbers released on the two quarterbacks, Florida State transfer Jake Coker and fifth-year senior Blake Sims, vying for the starting job.
"I think it would be unfair to either player to really evaluate based on any kind of passing statistics today," Saban said. "You would have to include the drops, because there were a few drops due to the conditions."
Saban said there were a lot of missed tackles for a defense that did not have the services of linebacker Trey DePriest (knee), cornerback Eddie Jackson (knee) and defensive linemen Brandon Ivory and Jarran Reed, who are in the five-day acclimation period after coming off suspension. Redshirt sophomore kicker Adam Griffith of Calhoun, Ga., continues to have a good camp, making four of five field-goal attempts.
"It was important for our team to be able to come out and scrimmage in our stadium," Saban said, "and I thought it was important for the game-administration part of it -- using the press box and having people call plays from the press box. Using things that if we had practiced indoors, we would have never been able to do it."
Freshman defensive end Da'Shawn Hand had four tackles and a sack. ... Sophomore tight end Kurt Freitag has turf toe and is out indefinitely, Saban said, while sophomore defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson missed the scrimmage after having his foot stepped on during Friday's workout. ... Ross Pierschbacher, 6-foot-4, 295-pounder from Cedar Falls, Iowa, worked behind Cam Robinson during the scrimmage portion open to the media, giving the Crimson Tide two true freshmen at left tackle. ... Junior defensive back Geno Smith has a sprained knee and will miss a couple of days of practice, according to Saban. ... The Crimson Tide will have today off before resuming camp Monday.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.