University of Alabama

Defense star of Alabama football's second spring scrimmage

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Rolando McClain and the defense had a solid performance in Alabama’s scrimmage on a windy Friday afternoon.

Tyrone King returned an interception 24 yards for a touchdown while McClain and Marcell Dareus each had 2 1/2 sacks at Bryant-Denny Stadium. McClain also had eight tackles.

The Crimson Tide went through some 150 plays, including special teams and situational drills, in its second scrimmage of the spring.

“I think some of the defensive players (stood out),” coach Nick Saban said. “Rolando McClain has had a really good spring. He’s really embraced the leadership role that he has. He played very well today.”

He said the defense has improved its pass rush and also praised linebacker Dont’a Hightower.

Quarterback Greg McElroy led the offense with 128 yards and two touchdowns passing, but he was also intercepted twice. Walk-on Thomas Darrah passed for 91 yards and an interception. Star Jackson completed just five passes for 12 yards but threw for a 3-yard touchdown to Preston Dial.

Darius Hanks had the biggest receiving day. He had eight catches for 69 yards while Julio Jones scored and gained 54 yards on three receptions.

“I think we need to keep developing,” Saban said. “I think we need to keep improving, relative to how we throw the ball. And it’s not just the quarterback. The quarterback has probably done a really good job; it’s pass protection, it’s running routes, it’s timing, it’s people getting away from man-to-man (coverage).

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in that area, and we’ve emphasized that this spring and we’ll continue to emphasize it.”

The offense was short-handed due to injuries to offensive lineman Mike Johnson (ankle) and running backs Mark Ingram (hamstring) and Roy Upchurch (neck).

In their absence, freshman Ivan Matchett was the leading rusher with 43 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.

The Tide is off this weekend for Easter and returns to practice on Tuesday.