Big Plays Highlight Alabama's Final Football Scrimmage

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama football team held its final preseason scrimmage on Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium, running approximately 160 plays in the two-hour practice.

"The first thing I would say is there was a significant amount of improvement from last week's scrimmage to this week's scrimmage," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said following Saturday's scrimmage.  "In terms of ability to execute, consistency in performance and we made a lot more big plays."

On offense, big plays came from junior quarterback Greg McElroy, sophomore running back Mark Ingram and junior running back Terry Grant.  McElroy completed 23 of 44 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns, including a 66-yard strike to Ingram.  Grant led all rushers with 72 yards on 12 carries and scored on a 49-yard burst.

"I was very pleased with the way the ones played on both sides of the ball," said Saban.  "I was not really that pleased with the way the twos played."

Leading the Crimson Tide defense was sophomore linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who recorded eight tackles and added one sack.  Junior Rolando McClain had seven tackles and also returned an interception 20 yards for a score.  Sophomore defensive lineman Marcell Dareus and senior linebacker Eryk Anders had two sacks apiece.

The Associated Press released its college football poll on Saturday and Alabama is ranked fifth in the preseason poll.  The Crimson Tide is one of five SEC teams in the preseason top 13, including Florida (No. 1), Mississippi (No. 8), LSU (No. 11) and Georgia (No. 13).  Alabama's opening day opponent, Virginia Tech, is ranked seventh in the AP preseason poll.

Alabama will take Sunday and Monday off and return to the practice field on Tuesday, Aug. 25 at 3:30 p.m.  The 2009 season opener is two weeks away as No. 5 Alabama meets No. 7 Virginia Tech in the Chick-Fil-A College Kickoff on Saturday, Sept. 5 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.  The game will be televised live by ABC Sports with kick off set for 7 p.m. (CST).