TUSCALOOSA | Nico Johnson sensed it, and so did Michael Williams.
C.J. Mosley, too.
The University of Alabama's first scrimmage of fall camp Saturday was significantly higher on the intensity scale than the norm, and with camp closing with a final scrimmage this weekend, nothing less is expected the second time around.
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"The first scrimmage, I've never seen intensity like that. (In) six (previous) times (playing in a fall camp scrimmage), I've never see intensity like it was Saturday. We just want to improve scrimmage after scrimmage," Johnson said.
Johnson, a senior, figures to be among the defense's leaders this fall with extensive experience at the linebacker position. The Andalusia native indicated there was little need for a pep talk on Saturday, however.
"Pretty much game mode. Everybody was game mode. Sometimes we go into scrimmage, most of the time, the first defense struggled. We give up a lot of big plays, miss a lot of tackles. That didn't happen this time," Johnson said. "It's like everybody was focused in, intensity, flying around, hitting. Everybody was just in tune to what we was doing. They was tuned in, committed to what we was doing. It was just exciting to be out there."
Johnson himself, apparently, was more than just a witness to the heightened aggressiveness. He was an active participant.
"I saw a different Nico Saturday," Williams said. "He was more amped up; he was leading the defense; he was leading everybody, actually."
Williams said the first offense moved the ball effectively in scrimmage work and was pleased with its overall performance. So too, Williams believes, was head coach Nick Saban.
"Usually after scrimmage one, coach Saban tells us it is going to be more physical in Scrimmage two and it is more physical," Williams said. "But this was the first time I didn't hear him say that after scrimmage one because of the way people were popping, people were moving around, people were enthusiastic. It was a great scrimmage. ... We'll see if it's more physical or not, but I don't think it can get more physical than the first one."
Running back Jalston Fowler has spent a few individual drill periods working with the tight ends of late, along with his usual position of running back. The junior from Vigor High could be an option as an H-back for the Crimson Tide.
"Fowler fits the mold of a tight end. He's big, he's strong, he has good blocking skills, he can catch the ball out of the backfield," said Williams. "So Fowler is somebody who can play running back, but when he's not in there (at running back) as good as he is you don't want him coming off the field, so he can help us at H, too."
"When you first get into this game you want to throw touchdowns, you don't always take what the defense gives you. I feel like I do a pretty good job of that and I just have to keep doing that. Just keep growing as a leader. Coach, I met with him the other day, we were just talking about the scrimmage, and just keep taking what they're giving me, like one of our old sayings, 'Take what they give you and eventually they'll give you the game." - AJ McCarron on his progression as a quarterback.
Linebacker Adrian Hubbard, who sprained his elbow Saturday in the scrimmage, participated in practice Monday with his arm heavily wrapped. Saban said Saturday that the injury does not appear to be serious. ... Freshman linebacker Densel Devall practiced with outside linebackers during individual drills Monday, while junior Tana Patrick worked with the inside group. The two had previously worked in the opposite groups. ... The Crimson Tide returns to the practice field today at 2:30 p.m. (closed to public).
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com or at 205-722-0196.