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TRips: Three Friday thoughts

Three Friday thoughts:

Look for plenty of passing from McCarron and Sims in Saturday's scrimmage.

Spring means footballs are in the air: It would be impossible to accurately predict what will happen in the University of Alabama football team's first scrimmage of spring drills tomorrow at Bryant-Denny Stadium but if history is an indication of what's to come, there's one thing you can count on: The Crimson Tide offense will throw the football. A lot.

In UA's three spring scrimmages a year ago, quarterbacks A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims combined to attempt 213 passes. That's an average of nearly 36 passes for each signal caller per scrimmage. For some perspective, consider that Alabama attempted more than 35 passes in one game last season: Kent State (which was essentially a scrimmage in its own right).

Unlike a year ago, the Crimson Tide isn't in the market for a starting quarterback. But that doesn't mean there aren't questions to be answered in other areas of the passing game.

Alabama is breaking in new starters at wide receiver, H-back and left tackle and that's before you get to an Eddie Lacy-less running back stable that hasn't been tested in the pass protection and pass catching departments.

There's also the on-going transition to a new offensive coordinator, although no one expects Doug Nussmeier's version of Nick Saban's offense to look much different than Jim McElwain's version of Nick Saban's offense.

Repping the passing game over the next three Saturdays won't be just about the offense. On defense, two starting corners and a safety must be replaced in the secondary. Up front, most of last season's pass rush numbers left with NFL-destined linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower. Looking at what must be replaced, I'd go as far as to say the perimeter (corner and pass rush) of the defense will be the key to the 2012 season.

In the past, Alabama hasn't needed much of a reason to go to the air in scrimmage work. This spring, it has plenty of them.

Crimson Tide infomercial: There it was, clear as day in the late-morning ESPNU slot on the cable box channel guide: "Trent Richardson and Mark Barron Pro Day Workout".

Not "College Football" or "NFL Draft", but "Trent Richardson and Mark Barron Pro Day Workout". It might as well have read, "Come play football at Alabama and get your own infomercial on the ESPN family of networks".

For those who took in Alabama's 2008 Pro Day, which strongly resembled a regional CFL tryout, the Richardson and Barron variety show was just another reminder of how far the program has come.

Four years ago, you couldn't get NFL head coaches and general managers to travel to Tuscaloosa once in March, let alone twice. That year, Alabama and Stillman shared more than the town that hosts their institutions. Like Stillman, Alabama didn't have a player selected in the 2008 draft.

In the four years that followed, UA posted a 48-6 record, captured two national titles and, depending on how next month's draft plays out, could be home to as many as 12 first-round picks since 2009.

Enjoy recruiting against that.

Two fours before?: Can you name two players from the same school who wore the same number that were selected in the same draft?

If Marquis Maze joins Barron in having his name called in the upcoming draft, I'm thinking UA's dual No. 4s will represent a first. If it's happened before, feel free to let me know.

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