What should a Crimson Tide fan take from the first scrimmage?
Exactly the same thing they took from last year's first scrimmage.
Last year, Nick Saban was pleased with the effort of his team. If you were to look back at Saban's first fall camp scrimmage in 2007, comments were made, such as "controlling the line of scrimmage," "playing with consistency on both sides of the ball," and "doing things the right way."
Now, for the second year in a row, Saban has expressed that he's "seen improvement" in key areas that were weaknesses the year before.
In 2008, there were improvements at the line of scrimmage—partly due to the signing of Terrence Cody. Players played with consistency, and demonstrated leadership. But the lack of a pass rush was considered a weak link during the Tide's run last year.
On Saturday, Saban expressed that he has seen improvement in that area, especially with the linebackers consisting of 23 total tackles, five tackles for loss, four sacks, one pass breakup, and a forced fumble.
Rolando McClain and Don'ta Hightower were the stat leaders for all the linebackers, combining for 15 tackles. In this case, it's not a bad sign when the defense plays a bit better than the offense, considering that this offense is breaking in new starters on the offensive line.
Greg McElroy had a solid game, going 17-for-29 with 188 yards and one touchdown, Julio Jones picked up where he left off, from his freshman campaign, with six catches for 100 yards and a touchdown reception that went for 34 yards, and Mark Ingram ran for 55 yards on 17 carries with three touchdowns. Out of all the freshmen, Kevin Norwood stood out with three receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown.
In comparison, the numbers from last year to this year are almost like night and day.
Last year, John Parker Wilson threw for 309 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Mike McCoy had the best day of all the receivers with three catches for 119 yards and a touchdown, and surprisingly on defense, Charlie Higgenbotham led all defensive players with eight tackles.
I wonder how many people were saying how much Higgenbotham was going to see some playing time on defense and McCoy was going to have his breakout season.
But to be honest, there is not much to take from these scrimmages.
We don't know whether or not these stats are from situational packages, or if the first team offense was up against the second team defense, or vice-versa. But what we do know is simply this: If Saban was pleased with the effort on both sides, then the team should focus more on getting better and not being complacent.
In this case, Tide fans should focus more on what Saban says than scrimmage stats.