Nick Saban pleased with offense after first Tide scrimmage

Nick Saban pleased with offense after first Tide scrimmage

April 9th, 2017 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Senior receiver Robert Foster (1) reaches for the ball as junior safety Ronnie Harrison (15) defends during Saturday's first spring scrimmage in Tuscaloosa.

Photo by Kent Gidley Kent Gidley Kent Gidley Kent Gidley

So far, so good with Alabama's offense under new coordinator Brian Daboll.

The Crimson Tide held their first spring scrimmage with Daboll calling the plays Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Daboll, who spent the past three seasons as tight ends coach of the New England Patriots, was hired in February following the unexpected departure of Steve Sarkisian.

"I thought the transition was pretty smooth on offense with the things that we are doing — from the carryover of things we were doing in the past to the new things that we did," Alabama coach Nick Saban said in a news conference. "We were much more effective passing the football today. We had a lot of big plays — a lot of explosive plays — throwing the ball, especially with play-action passes.

"All of the quarterbacks did a good job, and they all had a great opportunity."

Saturday's scrimmage was closed to the media.

Saban provided a checklist last week of things he wanted Jalen Hurts to accomplish, and he said the sophomore quarterback came through. Hurts struggled down the stretch last season, completing just 31 of 65 passes (47.7 percent) against Florida, Washington and Clemson, but was over 50 percent Saturday, Saban said.

"I think he had four touchdown passes," Saban said. "I don't think we threw any interceptions, which was good, and I just think he has a good understanding of what we're doing. He did a much better job in the pocket and did a great job with play-action passes."

Junior receiver Calvin Ridley benefited from the aerial attack with eight catches, Saban said, while sophomore T.J. Simmons had seven. Saban added that fifth-year senior Robert Foster had three catches and played well.

The receivers had a big day at the expense of a secondary that struggled, especially the backups. Saban said junior Minkah Fitzpatrick worked at safety after spending the first several practices at cornerback, and the first-team corners were Anthony Averett and Trevon Diggs, who had 11 receptions for 88 yards last year as a freshman.

"We're pleased with the progress Trevon has made," Saban said. "He's long and has good toughness. He plays the ball well the deep part of the field, and he plays good man-to-man."

Freshman running backs Najee Harris and Brian Robinson got most of the carries Saturday with Damien Harris (foot injury), Bo Scarbrough (leg), Josh Jacobs (thigh) and B.J. Emmons (foot) missing most or all of the scrimmage.

The Crimson Tide will return to work Monday.

"I thought there were a lot of good things out there for a first scrimmage," Saban said. "The No. 1 goal for any new team as you rebuild it is for that team to try to create an identity for themselves and have a clear vision of who we want to be and how we want to play. We always talk about being a team nobody wants to play, and I think that comes with guys playing with a relentless competitive spirit and trusting in the process."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.