The Crimson Tide worked out at Bryant-Denny Stadium for about two hours Saturday in its first scrimmage of the year, and Alabama head coach Nick Saban came off the field looking tired, sweaty and just a little bit disappointed. Saturday marked 89 days since Alabama’s last “scrimmage,” which went decidedly better — the 42-14 win over Notre Dame in Miami for the national championship.
“We’re not where we’d love to be or would like to be,” Saban said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got a lot of work to do with a lot of guys. It all starts with guys being able to sustain the kind of mental intensity you need to have to be a good football player, especially when things get a little tough, you get a little bit tired.”
That isn’t saying Alabama didn’t have some standouts during Saturday’s workout, which was closed to reporters and the public, except for a few hundred boosters, parents, coaches and recruits.
“We had some guys that played very, very well out there,” Saban said. But he added, “I’m not necessarily pleased with enough guys.”
Starting quarterback AJ McCarron “did a good job,” according to Saban. According to statistics provided by the university’s athletics communications office, McCarron completed 15 of 28 passes for 291 yards and four touchdowns. He threw one interception, which went into the hands of linebacker C.J. Mosley.
In addition, backup Blake Sims did a “really good job,” completing 13 of 19 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown with one interception.
Saban also said the running backs did well. The top rushers were Kenyan Drake (11 attempts for 85 yards), T.J. Yeldon (16-63) and freshman Derrick Henry (12-52). Drake and Yeldon scored one touchdown apiece, with Drake’s score covering 58 yards.
Receiver DeAndrew White, who missed the last nine games of 2012 because of knee surgery, caught seven passes for 132 yards and a couple of touchdowns. Amari Cooper caught three passes for 120 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, HaHa Clinton-Dix made four tackles and an interception, while middle linebacker Trey DePriest had four tackles, a sack and two interceptions. Linebacker Tana Patrick had six tackles, and cornerback Deion Belue had five stops and broke up a pass.
Linebacker Denzel Devall, defensive end Ed Stinson and linebacker Dillon Lee each had a sack.
“Defensively, we had some guys play well, but kind of hit and miss right now,” Saban said. “We don’t have enough guys doing the right things the right way all the time. That’s something we really need to work on. It’s a work in progress to try to continue to improve.”
Regarding the kicking game, Saban said Alabama didn’t work on it that much.
“We didn’t get as many field-goal opportunities as I wanted to get, and the ones we did get were all over 50 yards,” he said. “I think we made one. The protection wasn’t as good as it needed to be. But we have to continue to work on all those things. We punted the ball well, that part of it was pretty good.
“Kickoff coverage and kickoff return was pretty good. We’ve got a ways to go in terms of field goal and punt return and some of those things, but we haven’t worked on some of those things enough, either, to be honest, especially at this point in the spring, so it would be really hard to evaluate.”
Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter @MarkSportsStar.