It seem like it's been years since we have seen the Back-to-Back BCS Football National Champions on the field. In reality, it has only been a little over two months. Or more like nine weeks, 3 days, 16 hours, 23 minutes and 48 seconds. But who is counting, right?
NCAA I-A schools are allowed 15 spring football practices including a scrimmage game (A-Day). Here is the full schedule:
Saturday, March 16 - One in the books and the big news is Cyrus Jones, Christion Jones, & Dee Hart working out with the defensive backs. Monday, March 18 - Indoor practice of drills & teaching. Wednesday, March 20 - first day in pads! CJ Mosley still in black jersey but practicing with team. Friday, March 22 - another indoor practice, full pads. No new position changes or progress on black jerseys.
~ Spring Break ~
Monday, April 1
Wednesday, April 3
Friday, April 5
Saturday, April 6
Monday, April 8
Wednesday, April 10
Friday, April 12
Saturday, April 13
Tuesday, April 16
Thursday, April 18
Saturday, April 20 (A-Day Game / ESPN2)
I am sure it is no coincident that the Tide staff holds four practices before Spring Break. This certainly helps keep young minds right while the rest of the undergraduates get silly and do regrettable things.
The spring sessions should prove to have some intriguing storylines:
- AJ McCarron is entrenched at the returning starter but there is still plenty of quarterback controversy for the back-up role. Rising sophomore Phillip Ely appeared shaky in his limited mop up duty in 2012. Junior Blake Sims was good running the ball late in games but his passing game is lacking. Many observers felt that freshman Alec Morris looked to be the best of the back-ups in 2012 practices. Will Sims stay at QB? Will someone transfer? Might we get our first look at Cooper Bateman, Parker McLeod, or 3-star walk-on Luke Del Rio?
- Rebuilding the offensive line is a priority. With three starters heading off to play Sunday football, new O-Line coach Mario Cristobal has a daunting task ahead of him. Anthony Steen will be back at one guard position and Cyrus Kouandjio returns to left tackle. Sophomore Ryan Kelly looks to be the front-runner at center leaving a guard and tackle spot and close to a dozen candidates. Some of the favorites include juco transfer Leon Brown, Arie Kouandjio, Austin Shepherd, and Alphonse Taylor among others. (Don't forget incoming 5-star freshman A'Shawn Robinson who will arrive this summer, though he could end up on the defensive line).
- Speaking of the defensive line, Jesse Williams, Damion Square, and Quinton Dial all graduate. If you paid attention on National Signing Day, you noticed that D-Line depth is a concern. Veterans Ed Stinson, Jeoffrey Pagan, Xzavier Dickson, and Brandon Ivory all return with rising sophomores LaMichael Fanning and Darren Lake battling for field time. Dakota Ball and Korren Kirven are coming off redshirt years and will get a chance to prove themselves as well.
- Black Jerseys are typically worn by the no-contact walking wounded. Fortunately, Alabama was able to survive season-ending injures to H-back Jalston Fowler, WR DeAndrew White, WR Chris Black, and RB Dee Hart in 2012. It will interesting to see how they are progressing. Additionally, there are some beat-up guys still recovering from the grueling 14-game season: McCarron (ribs), CJ Mosley (shoulder), Kevin Norwood (toe), John Fulton (turf toe), Kenny Bell (broken leg).
As mentioned, spring practice concludes on Saturday, April 20 at 2 p.m. CT with the annual A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. As always admission is free to the public. There should be many pre-game activities on the Quad including the hands and footprints ceremony for the 2012 team captains at the base of Denny Chimes. If you cannot make it back to Tuscaloosa for the festivities, the game will be televised live on ESPN2.
Looks like Saban has made his classic "Try a guy at DB" of the spring happened today. Cyrus and Christion Jones were both seen working at CB today, though Christion was in a white jersey signifying he would also be working with the offense. The surprise (not not a real surprise) was that Dee Hart was also seen getting work at CB. This could be seen as attempt to get him reps since we are loaded at RB but many think it could be a way to get him "contact" before moving back to RB. Saban is known Cyrus Jones and Christion Jones and running back Dee Hart were all working with the group during today's open period of practice. It should be noted that Christion Jones was wearing a white jersey