TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama's 12th practice of spring workouts will feature its second scrimmage Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
After Saturday, the Crimson Tide will have just two more practices before its A-Day spring game on April 18.
Asked what areas he wants to see the team improve in coming off the first scrimmage, Tide coach Nick Saban said the team needs to get better "in every aspect of what we're doing."
"We just need to play with better fundamentals, better execution on a more consistent basis, better focus, better ability for 11 guys to go out there and know what they're doing and do it fast," Saban said. "That's really what we want to see at every position. There's not a position on the field that we're satisfied with in terms of where we are. There's not a position on the field that we're disappointed with, but we know that everybody has an opportunity to improve and that's certainly something we'd like to see.
"That's why we're practicing, and we hope to see the things that we emphasize in practice come to fruition in how the players compete when the scrimmage comes on Saturday."
Based on some of Saban's comments this week, here are three things to watch heading into the last scrimmage before A-Day.
During his Wednesday news conference, Saban made it clear where Alabama's quarterback competition stands.
"I think from a consistency standpoint, we're far from making a determination as to who would be first, second or third," Saban said.
Saban also went into a little more detail about each player participating in the race to replace Blake Sims as Alabama's next starting quarterback.
"I think all the guys did some things that were encouraging," Saban said of the first scrimmage. "We're encouraged by the young players, how much they've improved during this spring and in some cases from last year to this year. David Cornwell has done very well this spring. Blake (Barnett), being a freshman, has done very well this spring. Jake (Coker) has done well at times, and Alec Morris has done well at times. Cooper Bateman, who's playing receiver some just because he's a good athlete, is still getting some opportunity at quarterback."
Depending on how one wants to read into that, Saban's words can be viewed as motivation for Coker, who many expected to be the starter entering his last season. Or, they could be taken as Cornwell making a strong push for the start spotting spot.
Either way, this competition likely won't be over until the fall.
Running back depth
A position once filled with depth has become pretty thin as Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake, DeSherrius Flowers and Ronnie Clark are the only scholarship running backs still participating in spring practice. Tyren Jones was dismissed after he was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana second degree. Bo Scarbrough suffered a knee injury that will likely sideline him until at least midway through the season.
Saban said Henry and Drake have done a "really, really good job all spring long" and have been "fantastic" with how they've competed, among other things.
Still, Saban knows the position needs "to establish some depth."
Saban said Scarbrough was providing depth behind Henry and Drake. Now, Flowers and Clark have an opportunity to earn some extra reps.
Following the first scrimmage, Saban said the defensive front was the "strength" of the team.
Saban wasn't as complimentary about the secondary when asked about the group on Wednesday.
"We've got a long way to go in the secondary," he said.
With some young guys taking on bigger roles and some position experiments taking place, Alabama's secondary is far from being complete.
Cyrus Jones, who started all 14 games last year, has missed all of spring practice with a hip injury. Eddie Jackson, who started 11 games at cornerback last season, has been working at safety with the second-team defense. Saban said it is just an experiment.
Sophomore Laurence "Hootie" Jones, who played mostly in garbage time last year, and January enrollee Ronnie Harrison are two first-team safeties. Geno Smith is still working his way back into the rotation coming off of a week-long suspension for his arrest for driving under the influence. With Jackson spending some time at safety, Bradley Sylve has stepped in at cornerback opposite Tony Brown with the first-team defense. Junior Maurice Smith seems to have a hold on the star position with senior Jabriel Washington serving as the money, or the Tide's sixth defensive back in its dime package.
Marlon Humphrey, Anthony Averett and Jonathan Cook are all competing for reps at their positions as well.
The Tide's secondary has plenty of talent along with players who have some game experience. For Saban and secondary coach Mel Tucker, it's a matter of building a cohesive group that can be counted on.
-- Contact Anniston Star Sports Writer Marq Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.