TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- With eight practices down and seven to go, the spring portion of Alabama's quarterback competition is starting to take form coming off the Crimson Tide's first scrimmage of spring practice on Saturday.
With Jacob Coker scheduled to arrive in the summer, Blake Sims, Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman, Parker McLeod and freshman David Cornwell have a shot to impress the coaching staff.
From the statistics Alabama's media relations staff provided, Sims had an impressive day. He completed 70 percent (16 of 23) of his passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns, including a 75-yard strike to junior wide receiver Amari Cooper.
Redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman was 14-25 for 102 yards while Alec Morris went 9-of-12 for 57 yards.
Saban said he thinks the quarterbacks "really did a good job" in the scrimmage. He provided more insight into the competition that may continue through the season.
"I think the stats are pretty good for what they were able to accomplish," Saban said. "They've been pretty consistent throughout the spring. I think that, as a team, when we get in certain situations we have not been able to respond very well. And I think that it's a matter of the whole team. The pass protection needs to be better. The quarterback has to do a little bit better job. So when we're in play-action, move the field, running it, throwing it, getting the ball out of our hand quick, we do a nice job. But we get too much pressure in the pocket, so the quarterbacks can't operate, which we've got to get cleaned up with the offensive line so that the guys have a better chance to function.
"But I think that all the guys have done a good job of progressing throughout the spring."
Saban identified the three signal callers he feels have emerged as the most ready to play: Sims, Bateman and Morris and noted that Cornwell's evaluation is incomplete because he's not completely healthy.
"Blake has had a really good spring and has taken some command," Saban said. "Cooper Bateman has made a lot of improvement. He's done a nice job. Alec's still competing. Those three guys have sort of emerged as the three guys that look like they're most ready to play. Nobody's disappointed in anybody else. We actually feel like our freshman (Cornwell), who is coming off of an injury, has a lot of potential. He's just not 100 percent healthy yet.
"So we're pleased with the progress those guys have made."
From a skill player standpoint, Cooper had the biggest day. He finished with 10 catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns. Junior running back Kenyan Drake was the top rusher with 60 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
Defensively, linebacker Trey DePriest led the way with eight tackles while both Denzel Devall and Reggie Ragland each had five stops. Devall also had two tackles for loss and a sack.
"I thought that for the first scrimmage, I was really pleased with the effort and intensity that the players had," Saban said. "I really like the attitude of this team, in terms of how they go about what they try to do, how they work and the effort that they give, the mental and physical toughness they play with. A lot of guys come out and be conscientious to do a good job, and I think it shows in the way we play and the way we compete."
Along with the effort and intensity, Saban praised the team's chemistry thus far.
"The togetherness on the team is, to me, a lot better," Saban said. "I said back in the beginning that we're starting over in terms of starting a new program and going back to reemphasize the basic fundamental things that we thought made the program successful to start with. Everybody has to buy into that, and I like the way the players have responded. I like the leadership we have so far on this team."
Saban said that while the offense was able to make some explosive plays, he'd like to see better overall execution. From a defensive standpoint, he said the first unit played well, but the tackling wasn't great after that.
"I think every player should be thinking about the same thing: I'm not disappointed with where I'm at, but I'm also not satisfied with where I'm at," Saban said. "So we all need to take it one day at a time and do the things that we need to do to focus on the improvement that we need to make to become a better football team."
Alabama will have today off before returning to practice on Monday.