If there was one thing above all else fans wanted from the team’s first scrimmage it was improvement in the passing game.

After one scrimmage that seems to be the case.

No statistics were released from UA, but head coach Nick Saban gave a few off the top of his head. One of the main goals of the offense this spring was to see Jalen Hurts progress in his passing. To that end, Saturday was a positive step.

Saban entered the scrimmage with a sort of check list of things he wanted to see Hurts improve upon. The sophomore-to-be quarterback showed he’s on the right track.

“He did a good job,” Saban said. “He completed over 50 percent of his passes. I think he had four touchdown passes…thought he did a really good job. I don’t think he threw any interceptions today, so that was good.

“He has a good understanding of what we’re doing and did a much better job in the pocket and did a really good job with play action passes.”

Overall, the offense pleased Saban under new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. More of what Saban terms “explosive” plays were made and all three quarterbacks performed well.

“I thought the transition on offense was pretty smooth on offense with the things we were doing, the carryover of things we’ve done from the past as well as the new things that we did,” Saban said. “I thought we were much more effective passing the football today. A lot of big plays, a lot of explosive plays throwing the ball, especially play action passes. I think all the quarterbacks did a fairly good job and they all got a good opportunity.”

Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones all made plays, as did the wide receivers they threw the ball too. Robert Foster, Calvin Ridley, and T.J. Simmons had productive days.

Wide receivers step up

“Robert did a much better job today,” Saban said. “He was very engaged out there today. Made some catches. Calvin Ridley had a big day. I think he has like eight catches or something. Robert had three catches. TJ Simmons had seven catches.

“The backs had quite a few catches. I was pleased with the receivers. I think that’s one of the areas of concern where we need to make considerable improvement when I talk about consistency in performance. But most certainly, Calvin Ridley had a big day and Robert Foster was good.”

A look at the other side of the coin, however, reveals that Saban wants to see his secondary to play better.

“I think a lot of the young players made a lot of mental errors, but that’s OK,” Saban said. “I think that’s why we put them out there. They’ll learn from the mistakes that they made and we’re going to have an opportunity to get some of those guys better.

“It’s pretty obvious to me that we don’t have enough respect for the deep part of the field in the back end, especially past the first team because we gave up quite a few explosive plays with the second and third secondary when they were in there.”

Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0229.