Alabama football: Nick Saban tries to keep results from scrimmage secret

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerAugust 14, 2011 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- There was a scrimmage Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Only a few VIPs saw it.

And the stats? They remained a company secret after coach Nick Saban decided against releasing them publicly like the program has in the past. They are too easily misinterpreted, he said.

It mostly comes down to the competition at quarterback between AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims.

“This is something that we’re going to handle internally, we’re going to handle it internally with the players” Saban said. “They’re doing a great job of handling it, and I don’t think we need anyone to add to the confusion of what we’re managing relative to those two guys competing for this position, and they’re doing a great job of it. If everyone else could just be patient, and allow them to do a great job of it, I’ll be very, very happy and pleased with your professionalism.”

The limited information released included Marquis Maze’s five catches, 123 yards and three touchdowns.

Defensively, linebacker C.J. Mosley had six tackles, followed by Courtney Upshaw’s five that included a sack. Safety Mark Barron added five more stops, but that was the extent of the information released by UA media relations.

Saban explained the stats easily can be skewed by factors outside the quarterbacks’ control. The difference between playing with the first or second teams makes a big difference, he said.

“So whatever analyzation that you do, which is why I would not give you the stats one way or another, it’s not just about stats,” he said. “It’s about who can play winning football at that position. There’s a lot of reasons why a ball was incomplete and some of them, and you’ve heard me give this speech before, quarterback is a hard position to play when the people around you don’t play well. So if you’re getting pressure or the receiver’s not getting open, you’re going to have a hard time being effective, and that’s not just about what you do.”

As in the past, players were withheld from post-scrimmage interviews.

Speaking generally, Saban said he was pleased with the big-play capability of the passing game but the rushing attack needs work.

“I just think it’s timing,” Saban said. “And defensively, we’re not bad against stopping the run, so that probably contributes to it to some degree. I think a little of it is just consistency.”

The offensive line is still shuffling around while finding the right combination of starters.

Center William Vlachos returned Saturday after missing a Thursday afternoon practice and two more Friday with an illness. That may have contributed to the ground-game issues, Saban said, but he sees potential after the solidarity is set.

“There’s a lot of competition in the offensive line,” Saban said. “We have six or seven players that are pretty good players and maybe all guys I consider starters. … But only five of those guys are going to play. So, if we continue to develop a left tackle, Barrett Jones is always going to back and play where he’s always played at one of the guard positions.”

After practicing 11 times in nine days, the Tide is off today. Practice resumes Monday with workouts at 10:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. EDT

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