The University of Alabama’s first scrimmage heading into the 2019 season left some shuffling — in part because of injuries and also because of expected competition. That was true on both sides of the ball, especially with Trey Sanders, who was being counted on to supply depth at running back, out with an ankle injury that will require surgery.
Najee Harris and former Hillcrest High star Brian Robinson have been the leading candidates at running back through August but with Sanders out on Saturday, that meant added opportunity for redshirt freshman Jerome Ford — who was “probably the leading rusher” in the scrimmage, according to UA head coach Nick Saban — and true freshman Keilan Robinson.
After gaining 437 yards on 87 carries last season, Brian Robinson was already looking for extra playing time as the Crimson Tide must replace NFL draft choices Josh Jacobs and Damian Harris.
“Obviously it’s more serious,” Robinson said earlier this week. “I always took things serious, but it’s just the next level now, knowing that my role’s increasing and I’ll be used for more things. (It’s) just focusing on everything I need to fix in order to be prepared.
“If you’re not ready to play, the coaches are ‘t going to lie to you. The film’s not going to lie to you. At that point, you just need to focus on what you need to get better so that you will be when you are given the opportunity to play.”
Saban noted some progress in the first scrimmage but said things are still taking shape with less than three weeks to go before the season opener against Duke.
“We’ve got some other guys we need to really work hard with so that we develop a lot of depth on our team,” Saban said following the Saturday scrimmage. “We had a lot of good things happen out there today. We had a lot of guys make really good plays, and we had guys who didn’t make good plays. But I think the most important thing that we can do right now is for everybody to focus on, “Where am I at as a player?” That’s all that matters. “What do I need to do to improve?” I think the thing that you don’t want to happen is, how many of the errors we made were mental errors — penalties, unforced errors. Nobody on the other side to beat you, but you basically beat yourself. We’ve got some guys who have a lot of experience who are probably a lot closer to being game ready than others.”
There was no official word Sunday regarding the status of senior linebacker Josh McMillon, who left the scrimmage with what Saban described as a possible knee injury “that we need to look at.” Saban is scheduled to meet with the media again following Thursday’s practice.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt