Alabama football held its final scrimmage today inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. Production was balanced in the Crimson Tide’s first matchup, but its defense stole the show today. Two young running backs combined for 58 rushing yards. Sophomore receiver Robert Foster and junior tight end O.J. Howard came up huge again.
Touchdown Alabama Magazine writer Stephen M. Smith issues the grades.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends-Overall [A]
Robert Foster [A]- Robert Foster is emerging as Alabama’s second option, opposite Chris Black. He led the team in receptions (6) and totaled 102 yards. His hands are starting to improve, and he is showcasing speed on the field.
O. J. Howard [A]- O.J. Howard put in two catches in Alabama’s first scrimmage. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound junior doubled his production today. He caught four passes for 45 yards and two touchdowns. Howard is hungry, and is showing that he wants to be more involved in Alabama’s offense.
Parker Barrineau [A]– Parker Barrineau is a competitor. A former scout team player, Barrineau looks to expand his role on the team as a capable receiver. His hands were consistent today, as he brought in four passes for 81 yards. He’s caught two passes in 17 games as a member of the Crimson Tide.
Summary: Robert Foster is starting to understand his role as a physical receiver. He had a solid performance in Alabama’s first scrimmage, but a huge step forward today. O.J. Howard looked engaged, and was consistently getting separation from defenders. Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban has a role for Parker Barrineau, and it could be as a slot receiver. The 6-foot-0, 184-pound senior looked confident catching passes. Raheem Falkins didn’t have a huge game, but he managed to catch two passes for 46 yards.
Jarran Reed [A]– Junior A’Shawn Robinson dominated in Alabama’s first scrimmage, but today it was all Jarran Reed. He chimed in with five tackles, a sack and a pass breakup. Reed was exceptional against the run, allowing the backs to total 82 yards on 30 carries.
Dalvin Tomlinson [A]– Dalvin Tomlinson excelled against the run. He collected five tackles, and made it difficult for Alabama’s offensive line to maintain blocks.
Ronnie Harrison [A]– True freshman safety Ronnie Harrison wants a spot in Alabama’s secondary. He’s been impressive in practice, and his efforts took center stage in today’s scrimmage. Harrison recorded four tackles and showcased solid ball skills. Today’s performance was huge for his confidence moving forward.
Summary: Alabama’s defense wreaked havoc today. Jarran Reed, Dalvin Tomlinson and Ronnie Harrison all played well, but Dillon Lee and Reuben Foster made statements too. Both players each had three tackles and an interception. Foster was worked at middle linebacker, alongside Reggie Ragland.
Alabama’s offensive line is struggling to find its identity. The results from it led to a rough outing for its running backs. Coach Saban did release running back stats, including one on redshirt freshman Lawrence Erekosima. Erekosima accounted for 29 yards on seven carries. Ronnie Clark had 29 yards on 17 attempts, while Derrick Henry lined up the rear with 24 yards on six carries.
Statements from Nick Saban
Saban is waiting for a quarterback to take command of the team. He chose to sadden the media by not releasing quarterback stats for a second time. However, Saban didn’t shy away from complimenting sophomore quarterback David Cornwell.
“David Cornwell has done probably as good a job as anybody this spring,” Saban said. “He’s bright. He understands the offense and he’s shown great leadership.”
Saban ended the quarterback conversation by stating that it’s not something Alabama gives away, but it’s something for somebody to earn.
Saban has been impressed with Robert Foster. He said Foster is unsure of what to do at times, but he is a play maker.
“Robert Foster has really come on,” Saban said. “He plays fast when he knows what he’s doing.”
Saban was pleased with Alabama’s defense, but said its offensive line needs to start believing that it is the reason that the team is going to have success. He said the mindset isn’t there right now.
As for Alabama’s secondary, Saban said Eddie Jackson’s transition to safety is good. He said Jackson has played well, and that he and Geno Smith both know the defense. Saban said Smith has done what he needs to do at this point to be back on the team, but still has more work to do.
Saban was pleased with Alabama’s special teams, despite it missing two field goals.