Nick Saban: Tide must learn to play 'complete game'

Anniston StarApril 12, 2014 

Alabama Football 2014 Spring Practice

Alabama head coach Nick Saban coaches his DBs during the Crimson Tide's third 2014 Spring football practice, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/AL.com, Vasha Hunt)

VASHA HUNT — AP

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- "Some drastic improvement" is what Alabama coach Nick Saban saw in the Crimson Tide's second scrimmage compared to the first.

The Tide scrimmaged for two hours and roughly 140 plays, 15 more than the first scrimmage on Saturday. It was the 12th practice of spring with only two remaining before A-Day on April 19 at 1 p.m.

"I think the focus the past week was obviously was to sort of analyze the things we did in the last scrimmage," Saban said. "That's how you set goals for yourself. And with the things you don't do well, to emphasize those things so that you can improve in those areas. And I think in some of those areas, I saw some dramatic improvement. But overall there are some things we need to work on."

That's the measuring stick at this point. Saban wants improvement, but welcomes the opportunity of having "teaching moments" when players aren't as consistent as he'd like.

From the statistics provided by Alabama's media relations staff, the Tide spent most of the time throwing the ball.

Senior Blake Sims was the top passer, completing 24 of 39 throws for 288 yards and three touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman went 16-of-31 for 160 yards and two touchdowns while redshirt sophomore Alec Morris was 4-of-7 for 90 yards a touchdown.

From a receiving standpoint, junior Amari Cooper caught nine passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. Redshirt sophomore Chris Black finished with six catches for 89 yards. ArDarius Stewart, Kenyan Drake and Christion Jones each had a receiving touchdown.

No rusher went for more than 40 yards as sophomore Altee Tenpenny led the way with 39 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Saban said the offense didn't run the ball "effectively as I would like."

Defensively, senior linebacker Trey DePriest had six tackles and forced a fumble that junior cornerback Cyrus Jones recovered and returned for a 35-yard touchdown.

From an offensive and defensive standpoint, Saban said Saturday was "opposite" of what it was last week as the two units switched roles a bit.

"The offensive was really good in the move the field situations (last week)," Saban said. "When we did the specialty type stuff, when it was third down, red area or whatever, the defense was pretty good (last week). It was the opposite today. The offense was better in the situational stuff and the defense was better when we were moving the field. I don't know what all that means. We have to learn how to play a complete game whatever the circumstances are. We have to compete and play a complete game."

With more improvements to be made and only a few days left in spring, Saban said taking advantage of the last few practices is important for the team's growth.

"There are a lot of guys getting a lot of reps, getting a lot of opportunities to improve and learn," Saban said. "I still think our team has to develop the mental toughness, the psychological disposition to sustain better, finish things better, play harder, be a more relentless competitor. I like the attitude of our team, but I still think there are guys that need to improve in that area.

"If we are going to improve as a team, in the difficult times, finishing the game, fourth quarter, things get difficult, you get tired, that's when we have to execute and do things well. So you know there's a lot for us to work on."

Alabama has Sunday and Monday off before returning to practice on Tuesday.

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