TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama football team held the first scrimmage of the 2011 camp Saturday afternoon in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The scrimmage lasted more than two hours and started with one period of 7-on-7 before the team moved to 11-on-11 drills that included regular game situations, third-down situations, red area, goal line, coming out, and two-minute.
“The first scrimmages in fall camp are difficult to evaluate,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “We”ve been going two-and-one, two-and-one and had two practices yesterday, so you have a little bit of a weary team. But one of the things you have to learn in camp is you have to fight weary. That”s one of the things you have to do in the season, there”s a lot of difficulty, there are a lot of circumstances and adversity that you have to overcome, and it”s one of the things that we”re trying to work mentally, to get our players to be able to do as a football team.”
On offense, senior wide receiver Marquis Maze had five catches for 123 yards and three touchdowns.
“The more maturity you have, the more experience you have, those guys seem to be able to do it a little better,” Saban said. “We have some young guys who probably need to make some improvement in that area. We have a long way to go as a team, we had probably far too many penalties out there today, too many missed assignments, too many mental errors, but if we played perfect today we probably wouldn”t need to practice 20 more practices for the first game, so we have things we need to improve on, this will certainly give us a great barometer of where we are as a team. We can evaluate a lot of players to see how they responded to a competitive situation, how they competed and how they played.”
Sophomore linebacker C.J. Mosley was the top tackler on with six. Senior linebacker Courtney Upshaw and senior safety Mark Barron each had five tackles. Of Upshaw”s five stops, two were tackles for loss and one was a sack.
“I saw a lot of good things out there, from a lot of players, but I also saw a lot things that we need to improve on to be a good football team and play with consistency,” Saban said. “We need more players to be able to do that.”
Senior center William Vlachos, who was sick and held out of Thursday and Friday practices, returned to action Saturday. Saban said Ryan Kelly, Brian Vogler, and Alex Watkins were held out of the scrimmage due to injury.
The scrimmage marked practice number 11 for the Crimson Tide. The team is scheduled to return to practice Monday with a two-a-day.
n Arkansas moving forward without injured Davis: At Fayetteville, Ark., Bobby Petrino isn”t about to let go of Arkansas” hopes or expectations for the season following Knile Davis” ankle injury.
Instead, the Razorbacks coach has every intention of using the loss of the Southeastern Conference”s leading rusher as motivation.
Davis injured his left ankle early during the scrimmage portion of practice Thursday evening. Petrino said the junior, who led all SEC running backs with 1,322 yards rushing last season, had surgery that evening and is expected to miss the season.
Davis” loss leaves an obvious void in production on the field for Arkansas, which is still looking for Ryan Mallett”s successor at quarterback. It also opens the possibility of a hangover of sorts for the Razorbacks, who watched the team”s emotional leader carted off the field following the injury.
Petrino is confident Arkansas will find the offense, and he”s counting on experience to help stabilize the Razorbacks” psyche.
“We”ve got two ways we can handle it,” Petrino said. “No. 1, we can use it as an excuse. It”s an excuse all year long, or we can use it as the No. 1 motivating factor to work as hard as we can to be a good football team.
“So we”ll see how we handle it.”
Junior running backs Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo are likely to step in for Davis in the short term. The trio shared carries early last season before Johnson suffered a season-ending injury of his own and Davis took the reins of the Razorbacks offense.
n Field goal kicking highlight of Vols” scrimmage: At Knoxville, Tenn., Michael Palardy kicked three field goals, including a 52-yarder, and Tyler Bray threw for one touchdown and 132 yards in Tennessee”s scrimmage Saturday.
Bray started the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Da”Rick Rogers. But the Vols” offense wound up settling for five field goals overall with Palardy connecting from 33, 52, and 36 yards, and Chip Rhome kicked a pair himself from 33 and 35 yards. Palardy missed his one field goal attempt longer than 50 yards as a freshman in 2010.
Matt Simms also had a touchdown pass, tossing an 18-yarder to Matt Milton. Simms finished 6 of 13 for 62 yards, and Bray was 12 of 26.
Curt Maggitt led the defense with two sacks and 4 1/2 tackles for loss.
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