There were highlights all-around on Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium, as the Crimson Tide football team went through its first full-contact scrimmage of the 2006 spring season. Several new faces made good first impressions, while the returning stars looked sharp for much of the day.
"I think we got some good work today," head coach Mike Shula said. "I think we got some things done. We watched some of these young guys work with some of the first groups. Overall, after the scrimmage we talked about leadership and finding an identity with this team."
As has become customary at Alabama, the defensive units were spectacular through much of the 110-play scrimmage. The Tide defensive teams tallied seven sacks, grabbed two interceptions and racked up five tackles-for-loss on the afternoon.
"I thought defensively we had a good day," Shula said. "I think a lot of guys played well, with Simeon Castille, Terrence Jones and Prince Hall, who's gotten a lot better in the last week."
A majority of those statistics came from fresh faces for the Alabama defense, which will be looking to replace seven starters from the unit that ranked in the nation's top five in several defensive categories last season.
Leading the way for that defense was senior safety Bryan Kilpatrick, who had seven tackles and a pass break-up on the afternoon. Marcel Stamps, a junior from Brantley, was right behind Kilpatrick with six stops. Juwan Simpson, a mainstay on last year's defensive team, had five tackles on the day.
Eric Gray a junior cornerback from West Morganhad five tackles to go with an interception. Jeffrey Dukes, who had the other interception for the defense, added four tackles, one for a loss.
The play of the secondary was supplemented by an steady pass rush for the defensive line throughout the scrimmage. Heading the charge was freshman Brandon Deaderick, a defensive end from Elizabethtown, Ky., who was credited with two sacks on the afternoon. Darren Mustin, J.P. Adams, Keith Saunders, Dominic Lee and Simeon Castille each added a sack for the defense.
Another highlight was the performance of kicker Jamie Christensen, who continued to impress on special teams. Christensen drilled all three of his field-goal attempts, converting from 36, 40 and 44 yards. The junior from Norcross, Ga., also made good on his lone point-after attempt.
"I thought that offensively the MVP would be Jamie Christensen," Shula added. "I thought he kicked the ball as well as he has ever kicked it today, so that was good to see."
The offense had its share of highlights as well, as the Tide offensive teams scored three touchdowns on the day.
Freshman Roy Upchurch, a freshman from Tallahassee, Fla., had 16 carries for 76 yards. That total included a 44-yard scamper on the fourth-play from scrimmage for the second-team offense. Upchurch added a catch out of the backfield for 17 yards to his offensive totals.
Kenneth Darby scored a touchdown as well, on a two-yard plunge late in the scrimmage. Darby finished with 11 carries and 16 yards.
Jimmy Johns and Max Martin, a junior from Madison, had seven carries apiece on the afternoon. Johns had 10 yards, while Martin finished with 25 yards.
The quarterbacking crew, led by John Parker Wilson, had some good moments, but found it difficult to put together strings of completions against the aggressive Tide defensive backs.
Wilson completed 9-of-22 of his passes for 96 yards on the afternoon. Marc Guillon was good on 4-of-14 while Jimmy Barnes threw for 37 yards on his two completions. Barnes threw the only touchdown pass of the day, a 27-yard strike to Darwin Salaam.
Salaam finished with 37 yards receiving with the lone touchdown. Keith Brown led the receiving corps with 62 yards on two catches. Nick Walker had two catches for 40 yards.
The Tide will practice on Tuesday and Thursday this week before the university's spring break. The annual A-Day game will be on April 1 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
STATISTICS FOR MARCH 11 SCRIMMAGE Â- BRYANT-DENNY STADIUM
27 Roy Upchurch 16-76, TD
34 Kenneth Darby 11-16, TD
42 Max Martin 7-25
10 Jimmy Johns 7-10
20 Theo Townsend 4-9
29 Ali Sharrief 1-31
22 D.J. Hall 1- -4
14 John Parker Wilson 9-22, 96 yards, 2 INT
18 Marc Guillon 4-14, 62 yards
15 Jimmy Barnes 2-3, 37 yards (27 yards to Salaam)
81 Keith Brown 2-62
88 Nick Walker 2-40
39 Darwin Salaam 2-37, TD (27 yards from Barnes)
27 Roy Upchurch 1-17
9 Nikita Stover 1-10
11 Matt Caddell 1-8
Upchurch, 44-yard TD run -- Play 11
Christensen, 36-yard FG -- Play 17
Christensen, 44-yard FG -- Play 33
Christensen, 40-yard FG -- Play 42
Sharrief, 27-yard TD reception from Barnes Â- Play 58
Darby, 2-yard TD run Â- Play 62
Friedman, 35-yard FG Â- Play 79
Upchurch, 2-yard TD run Â- Play 100
30 Bryan Kilpatrick Â- 7 tackles, 1 pass break up
6 Marcel Stamps Â- 6 tackles
36 Eric Gray Â- 5 tackles, INT
42 Juwan Simpson Â- 5 tackles
95 Brandon Deadrick Â- 2 tackles, 2 sacks
2 Simeon Castille Â- 1 tackle, 1 sack, INT
86 Jamie Christensen, 3-3 (36, 40, 44): 1 PAT
15 Andrew Friedman, 1-2 (35): 1 PAT: Missed from 35 (blocked)