One thing we can all agree on is that Saturday in Tuscaloosa was a beautiful Alabama spring day.
The Crimson Tide completed another spring game with a plethora of recruits, former players, and ESPNU in tow as the White defeated the Crimson 17-13. For the record, the White team represented the first team defense and second team offense while the Crimson was first team offense and second team defense.
As a game, it was not pretty. Some of you may feel despair but fear not. Things are not as they appear.
WHAT EXACTLY TOOK PLACE ON SATURDAY IN BRYANT-DENNY STADIUM?
This was not a real game. So many aspects of a regular game were missing from this scrimmage.
- Play calling: This was a very vanilla offense and defense for that matter. T.J. Yeldon (who looked awesome BTW) said the team displayed "10 percent" of its offense on Saturday. There is no reason for Bama to show all their cards in a setting like this. Additionally as Bammer pointed out in his article, many of the plays called were not strategic rather Nick Saban just wanted to see "a passing play" for example.
- Special teams: Under this structure, there was no outside rush on kicks and the return games were basically touch-ups and three-quarters speed. We all know what an exciting return man Christion Jones is. He did not get a chance to show his stuff. Additionally, back-up QB Alec Morris did all the punting and while he did an okay job (15 kicks for an average of 38.4 yards with five downed inside the opposing 20-yard line), it's hard to say whether he will be the regular punter in the fall as Bama has freshman JK Scott coming in as well as preferred walk-on punter Tuck Borie from Hoover. There is also the walk-on from Mexico, Adrian Lamothe, who was on the spring roster but did not participate for reasons unknown to me.
- Sacks: I have two points to make here. First is that hitting quarterbacks is a no-no in practice. There were a few touch-ups on Saturday that the QB may have been able to escape trouble in a game situation. Secondly is that the second team offensive line had no chemistry and included a walk-on, Paul Waldrop, at center. No offense to the guy but he and a few others probably drop back once this amazing recruiting class of 2014 arrives this fall.
- Depth: As mentioned above, the team is still waiting on Jacob Coker and the rest of the incoming new guys to arrive. On Saturday, the defense was much deeper than the offense. Many of the guys who played on the second team defense will be seeing regular time on the field come fall. You probably noticed several players with names and number that you did not recognize. Those would be walk-ons who will likely never see the field except maybe against Western Carolina in garbage time.
- Injuries: Freshman cornerback Tony Brown was not at 100% but you can see the skills. Expect WR DeAndrew White, DT Darren Lake, and CB Eddie Jackson to be back in the fall. Regarding Jackson, if you look at the Pro Days of Vinnie Sunseri and former UGA QB Aaron Murray you will realize that recovery times from ACL injuries have shortened in recent times. Additionally, Saban has yet to call Eddie's injury an ACL tear. There are reasons to be optimistic about his availability in the fall.
Once again, Alabama came home with the nation's top spring game attendance with 73,506. A little ways down the road, Auburn had their second-largest spring crowd ever of 70,645 (which would rank behind eight of Bama's best A-Days).
Alabama - 73,506
Penn State - 72,000
Auburn - 70,645
Nebraska - 61,772
Ohio State - 61,058
Georgia - 46,073
Oklahoma - 43,500
South Carolina - 36,412
Florida State - 36,000 - quite a surprise after winning a MNC.
Florida - 35,834
Clemson - 33,000
Texas - 30,000
Notre Dame - 27,986
Louisville - 27,500
Missouri - 23,000
Mississippi State - 21,710
(Arkansas, Kentucky, UCLA, Michigan State, and few others have their game on April 26)
You might think that Coach Saban was a little grumpy after the game but he was in good spirits. His first statement was "A'ight, nobody ever has a bad spring game". He is "very encouraged" about the whole spring effort and their attitude. He also repeated his mantra of guys buying into The Process® and "checking their ego at the door".
The reporters had a bunch of layup questions for Saban.
- Front seven: Saban seems pleased with many players rattling off a good dozen names.
- Kicking: " is a very talented guy" but Saban would like him "to be more consistent." He went on to say that "there will be competition in the fall" from JK Scott.
- Cam Rob: "A work-in-progress", very talented but he made some mistakes. But these mistakes are "learning opportunities."
- Leadership: Players "always respond" to issues brought up and again, he is encouraged by this.
- Tony Brown and the other corners: Nothing but good things to say about Brown. He also mentioned Bradley Sylve and Eddie Jackson having good springs.
These numbers are incomplete and unofficial. They are the only stats released by the University and culled from other reports. I don't know if anyone bothered to sit down and chart the whole game.
Cooper Bateman - 11 of 24 for 156 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interception, sacked three times (IMHO, he had a decent day. His protection was sub-par and his receivers dropped some passes. With some seasoning, he may be the answer after Coker goes #1 in the 2016 . GUMP!)
Blake Sims completed 13 of 30 for 178 yards, 1 touchdown with 2 interceptions (plus a Landon Collins drop and one that Jarrick Williams probably should've picked).
Alec Morris 3 for 7 nine yards, an interception, 3 sacks
Parker McLeod threw an interception on his first and only pass attempt.
David Cornwell nerves were showing. On his first play, he had to be told to go under center instead of in the pistol by Yeldon. On his second play he let a pass slip out of his hands and fall to the turf. It was ruled an incompletion instead of a fumble. Don't worry, he is still young.
Chris Black 3 catches, 78 yards, 1 touchdown
Robert Foster 4 catches for 50 yards
Amari Cooper 3 catches for 45 yards
3 catches for 22 yards
ArDarius Stewart 2 catches for 59 yards, 1 touchdown
Raheem Falkins 2 for 28
Jalston Fowler 1 for 16
Brian Vogler 1 for 10
The Crimson Team totaled 297 total yards (119 rushing, 178 passing)
The White Team finished with 219 total yards (54 rushing, 165 passing).
The teams combined for six turnovers, three by each team.
Jonathan Allen 6 tackles (5 solos), 2 sacks (-10 yards), 4 tackles for loss (-18 yards), a blocked field goal, and a quarterback hurry.
Reggie Ragland game-high 10 tackles (2.5 for losses) and an interception.
Dillon Lee 9 tackles.
Trey DePriest 7 tackles, one-half tackle for loss (-1 yard).
Maurice Smith 6 tackles and a forced fumble.
D.J. Pettway 2 tackles, pass interception returned 29 yards for a touchdown.
Tim Williams 5 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 QBH, fumble recovery returned 5 yards to the 7-yard line.
Xzavier Dickson 3 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 sack (-9 yards)
Ryan Anderson 4 tackles 3.5 TFL, 3 sacks
Tony Brown 2 tackles, INT, 2 Break Up
If you are interested in watching the game again, you can do so at espn3.com If you do choose to do so, be forewarned that it is one of the most annoyingly frustrating broadcasts I have ever suffered through.
- Doing the play-by-play must have just been a nuisance to ESPN as Dave Neal and the latest useless sideline reporter were directed to conduct long boring interviews rather than call the game. Does ESPN understand their audience at all? Most viewers of this game are Alabama fans who want to watch the action and know who is on the field and what they are doing. Instead, they thought it was more prudent to talk to Paul Finebaum about his new book during ten minutes of action and ask A.J. McCarron six or seven inane questions.
- Joey Galloway - aw Lawd is this an annoying color commentator. His only attempt at an insightful comment was comparing T.J. Yeldon to Eddie George - his former teammate from Ohio State from back in the early 1990s. It seems the total knowledge of college football that Galloway has retained is from the years he spent at OSU twenty years ago. If I want to hear mindless blather from an egotistical former wide receiver, I would watch the NFL studio shows.
- Very few replays. They thought it was more important to show multiple shots of Lane Kiffin looking at a clipboard.
If this is what we can expect from the SEC Network, count me out.
In case you missed it, Alabama picked up four really big-time commitments for 2015. You can read about them here.
In addition, basketball coach Anthony Grant piggybacked on the festivities and picked a 2014 commitment from small forward Jeff Garrett. Garrett is a 6-foot-7, 210-pounder from Oldsmar Christian in Oldsmar, FL. but he is originally from Gadsden, AL. He was on an official visit to Alabama this weekend. The 3 star had offers from Louisiana Tech, Oregon State, Murray State, South Alabama, and a few others. I guess with the recent departures from the basketball team, there was room for one more. #processed