TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Two days before lining up for a second preseason scrimmage, Alabama coach Nick Saban is recognizing growth.
He said the Crimson Tide had turned a corner in the past two practices after a poor effort in Tuesday’s final workout before starting classes.
A few nagging injuries, however, have popped up.
Wide receiver Julio Jones “sprained his ankle a little bit,” the coach said, but has not missed any practice time. A few players have missed workouts with minor injuries.
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Freshman defensive back Dre Kirkpatrick pulled a muscle and was day-to-day, and wide receiver Marquis Maze sat out one practice with an unspecified injury but was back Thursday.
Running back Roy Upchurch said he “tweaked” his groin and missed a few practices but plans to be on the field Saturday afternoon for the scrimmage.
In addition, Marcell Dareus’ right index finger was in a splint when he came to talk with reporters Thursday night. The defensive lineman said the finger got caught between helmets and wasn’t seriously injured.
Saban didn’t want to give away too much about the injuries when asked to specify the nature of the ailments.
“We usually don’t give specifics about injuries,” the coach said. “I’m going to call Frank Beamer and tell him exactly what’s wrong with every guy so they can pull on their leg in the game.”
Alabama plays Beamer’s Virginia Tech squad in the season opener Sept. 5 in the Georgia Dome.
Scrimmage to ‘polish’
Saturday’s scrimmage will have a different feel from the previous simulation.
Saban said it will include more “polishing” and less installation than the scrimmage held last Saturday.
“We will spend a little bit of time on opponents’ problems, things that we don’t see from our offense and things that our offense doesn’t see from our defense,” Saban said.
Scrimmages aren’t the only opportunities for the team gets to work on specific game situations. Every practice ends with a run through of a specific end-of-game situation, such as a two-minute drill.
McClain ready, eager
Mike linebacker Rolando McClain will be ready to hit the field at 3:30 p.m. Saturday scrimmage in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The All-American treats the practice game with a high level of urgency.
“I treat it like a game, like we are playing Tennessee or somebody,” he said with a chuckle.
He also dismissed rumors that he had been hurt and sitting out practices saying he’d been healthy throughout preseason practice.