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Saban unhappy following scrimmage

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — Was he a little upset? Maybe.

Could it have been the heat? Well, it was more than 100 degrees in Tuscaloosa on Saturday.

As Alabama's football team practiced for the ninth straight day, Alabama coach Nick Saban had reason to be disappointed following his team's first scrimmage of preseason practice.

Saban asked his players following Saturday's work whether any of them were satisfied with their performances. According to the Tide coach, not one raised his hand.

"We have guys who we thought would be pretty good players, and I'm not so sure how well they performed today," Saban said. "I think this is the true test. How do you execute when nobody tells you and compete on the field and do what you can do and compete with how they do on game day?"

The practice was closed to the public and reporters, but Saban gave his post-scrimmage description, just as he did in the spring.

According to Saban, the defense struggled and missed tackles. The offense needed more consistency, as did the kicking game.

When asked about the overall performance of the defensive line, Saban referred to the whole defense, saying that there's plenty of improvement to make: "We have a lot of work."

But Saban said some positives came out of Saturday. For instance, he mentioned that the defensive issues had something to do with the playmakers on offense.

He lauded the work of quarterback John Parker Wilson, running back Terry Grant and fullback Jimmy Johns.

Saban added that Grant made some nice runs and had some catches out of the backfield and Johns did a good job blocking and running.

According to post-practice stats provided by the university's media relations department, Grant had 15 rushes for 110 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown run. Johns ran for 39 yards on 10 plays with one touchdown, and Wilson completed 13 of 22 passes for 231 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

According to Saban, getting all the parts of the offense to click at the same time will make him better.

"A lot of those improvements comes in the areas of consistency," Saban said. "That is going to be a key in all elements of the team, especially on offense. John Parker is a guy who will benefit from that, when the entire unit plays with more consistency."

He also said some wide receivers good some plays, and that freshman quarterback Nick Fanuzzi made some nice throws. He added that some of Fanuzzi's passes were dropped, perhaps contributing to his day of 4-of-9 passing for 24 yards and two interceptions.

"It doesn't end up in results because of the catchers," Saban said. "He was a nice surprise."

Despite the positives, Saban mentioned that the team needs to be mentally tougher. And the missed tackles on the defense had to do with some exhaustion issues, something the team will build upon as it heads into the second week of preseason practice.

"We were a little leg weary and we are not as intense mentally as where we need to be," Saban said. "It affects your ability to focus. That is where mental mistakes come. One of the key things is to tackle is intensity. Intense guys normally tackle well."

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