Crimson Tide ready for first spring scrimmage

Anniston StarApril 4, 2014 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Finally, some tackling.

With seven practices in the books, today is Alabama's first chance to practice "full go" in a closed team scrimmage. It's the first of three scrimmages with the final one being A-Day on April 19.

Following the scrimmage, Alabama's media relations staff provides statistics, but since members of the media aren't allowed to watch the workouts, there's no real context to the numbers.

Still, these scrimmages are where lineups began to take shape as the Crimson Tide builds toward A-Day.

"I think the most important thing is just how guys compete, how guys can go from practice," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "You're just not trying to get it right, but you're trying to get a guy enough repetitions that he can't get it wrong. And then evaluate when you put him out there in a competitive situation, where the coaches aren't out there nursing them through every play, telling them what to do, helping them. How a guy responds to that, the kind of knowledge and experience that he has that he can go out there and compete and execute and do his job. That's the most important thing."

Saban's second point of emphasis when evaluating scrimmages is to see how "guys respond to negative plays."

"We've had some pretty decent teams, but none of them that I can remember have ever played a perfect game, where there wasn't some adversity in the game and something that you had to overcome, especially in a tough game against good competition, which we have a lot of in our league, which you didn't have to overcome something in a game," Saban said. "It's how guys respond to negative, how guys respond to positive, how guys can continue to just keep playing the next play, how they get affected by good and bad things that happen because you've got to play for 60 minutes of the game and consistency of performance is really important. Some of that's psychological, so we're evaluating how guys can compete as well."

The players who've met with reporters so far this spring have different takes on the first scrimmage.

For some, the scrimmage provides an opportunity to become more comfortable with the play book.

"The concepts for the defense, the tackling, getting our concepts down, and stop the run, and to be the best you can be on the field," said junior safety Landon Collins, who's stepping into a more prominent role.

For others, it's about returning to form.

"I'm a little different because it's my first time being able to go full go in a couple of months," said senior safety Nick Perry, who missed the 2013 season with shoulder injury. "It's a little sweeter for me so I'm probably going to take it a little more serious than everyone else out there."

And for fifth-year senior Austin Shepherd, it's business as usual.

"For a guy like me there are no nerves," Shepherd said. "You've been through probably 30 of them. Young guys will have some nerves, but you have to get them loosened up and go out there and prove to the coaches you can play."

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