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Player Thoughts From The A-Day Game

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I'm going to separate the posts on the A-Day game into two different posts, one is going to focus on general thoughts, while the other is going to focus on thoughts about individual players and their progress and development. We'll go with the latter first, so here goes:

  • John Parker Wilson had a solid, even if not spectacular, day. He looked improved slightly from a year ago, and noticeably threw the football away better, and also got into the check-downs better than what we saw a year ago. I don't think there is any evidence to indicate he is going to have a breakout senior campaign, but he looked solid and improved.
  • Greg McElroy looked "good" based on the standards that he had set in the first two scrimmages. He made a couple of nice throws, and by that I explicitly mean three or four. He didn't play particularly well, but he didn't look ungodly terrible, which is apparently how he performed in the first two scrimmages. Unfortunately, there's still not a lot of positives to talk about with him. He doesn't have a strong arm, he's not particularly accurate, and he holds onto the ball so long sometimes you would swear he's clinging to a life jacket in the middle of the Atlantic.
  • Nick Fanuzzi looked completely out of his league. He has nice size and a nice arm, but aside from that... it's not pretty. He missed several open receivers, and in particular he overthrew a wide open route over the middle that should have been an easy touchdown, and in fact overthrew it so bad it turned into an easy pick in the back of the end zone for Rashad Johnson. As unimpressive as McElroy looked, Fanuzzi looked much worse.
  • Thomas Darrah is the second best quarterback we have on this team, end of story. He has great size, and he has a very big arm. He's more physically impressive than even Wilson. I know he is still in Saban's doghouse for an arrest a few months back, but if you go on pure performance, he is easily the second best quarterback on the roster. I know he's a walk-on, but he's far from typical walk-on. Sufficed to say, you don't find many 6'5 walk-on quarterbacks with rocket arms. We should all be keeping our eye on this kid.
  • Terry Grant is not an every-down back, and I've said that on many occasions. I think he showcased that yesterday, he's really a scatback and cannot run between the tackles. He's going to have to get his opportunities that you would typically expect from a scatback, and he's going to have to develop that into a third-down back who can pass block and catch the ball out of the backfield. Fortunately for Grant, and us, he did both of those latter two things really well on Saturday. And that is key for the amount of playing time Grant is going to get this Fall.
  • Roy Upchurch started off quite nicely, and he did show some signs of an ability to run between the tackles. Unfortunately, he seemingly faded off late in the game, only further calling into question his consistency, which has always been the big question with him. Either way, though, he's had a nice Spring and should be noted as such.
  • Nick Walker... developed into such a good receiving threat at tight end... still can't protect the football.
  • Colin Peek had a good day, despite a drop, and was running with the first team. I doubt his appeal goes through with the NCAA, so he likely won't be able to play this Fall, but he's a fine football player and a very good receiver. I figure he is just as good as Nick Walker, and perhaps a bit better. That bodes well when Walker graduates and Peek becomes eligible in 2009.
  • Mike McCoy is really breaking out, and his Spring has surprised me. He was never anything remotely close to a deep threat last year, but he has changed that this season, and looked very good yesterday. He looks to have made as much progress as anyone.
  • Darius Hanks looked as good as advertised. He might not technically "start," but he's going to play a lot, and get a lot of catches. He wasn't a highly-touted player, but he is obviously a fine player.
  • Earl Alexander looked really nice. When he got to Alabama, he had a lot of progress to make fundamentally at wide receiver because he had never played the position before. Going into his third years, he's developing very nicely. He's a physical beast at roughly 6'5 and over 215 pounds, and he is making strides on the fundamental side. He will play a lot in 2008, and catch a lot of balls. It's hard not to be highly optimistic when thinking of his future.
  • Marquis Maze showcased some of the true athleticism and physical nature that gets you excited about his future. He is obviously a highly talented athlete, and he's a physical player too. He had a long touchdown catch where he smoked a defensive back, had another nice reception on a crossing route, and blocked well in the running game. I don't think it would be entirely fair to compare anyone to Tyrone Prothro, but I would be lying if I were to say that he didn't remind me of him in many ways. He's small, but highly athletic, and he plays tough as nails.
  • Mike Johnson looked like he has made the transition to left guard quite nicely. I've said on several occasions that is a natural guard anyway, and it showed yesterday. He looked good in the running game, and his pass blocking looked much better when not having to face the highly athletic edge rushers at defensive end. At the very least, you can write it in the books that he will be an upgrade over Justin Britt.
  • Drew Davis has obviously made some nice progress at right tackle. He was one I was really keeping my eye on, and he looked fairly impressive. He doesn't look overly special, but he generally looked fairly solid. At the very least, he's made a ton of progress this Spring. I still expect Tyler Love to come in and take the starting job at right tackle, but Davis will fight him hard, and in the end give us some quality depth.
  • Lorenzo Washington had another nice day at nose tackle. He's not a big guy, but he does have great quickness and burst off the snap, and it pays huge dividends. He's honestly a natural 3-4 end, but he's a pretty stout tackle in his own right.
  • Alfred McCullough was highly impressive to me. He's a big kid, and very quick. You can go ahead and write it down now, he's going to play a lot this Fall. He may not technically "start" -- I figure that distinction goes to Greenwood -- but he and Greenwood will split snaps almost evenly, and he will be featured in every major game we play. He has been one of the major surprises of the Spring.
  • Josh Chapman is an absolute load at nose tackle. He is listed as 6'1, and that's a total crock. I'd be a bit surprised if he were even 6'0, he's probably more like 5'10 or 5'11. Still, though, that kid is stout as can be. He is very strong, and he has nice quickness, plus his lack of height helps him out with pad level. I was very encouraged by his development this Spring, and he looks to be right on the same level with Washington. I think he'll split snaps with Lorenzo almost evenly.
  • Luther Davis has a lot of progress to make. It's great to have him back on campus, but he has a lot of work to do in the weight room. He had a pretty big gut, and he was honestly the biggest of all of the guys going through the defensive line drills. I think his lack of conditioning is probably his biggest problem right now.
  • Eryk Anders was a big surprise on defense. He looked very good rushing the passer off the edge, and really looked to have improve. He's bulked up a fair amount, but is still quite fast. We should keep an eye on him.
  • Jimmy Johns... He looked okay, and by that I mean just okay. When he hits you, it's like you got hit by a freight train, but that's not what it is all about. He still has a long way to go on the mental side of things, and looked to be confused on a few occasions. And he was seemingly always the first to come off of the field when we went to nickel packages. He's great physically, but mentally he still has a ways to go.
  • Jennings Hester was absolutely smoked by Grant on the shallow crossing route that turned into a 75-yard touchdown. I know he's young, but he's not big, and he is obviously not very fast. Makes you wonder...
  • Chavis Williams looked pretty impressive. He is a nice physical specimen, and you can tell he has been working hard in the weight room. I wouldn't expect a whole lot out of him in the interim, but for the long-term I think he's a good prospect.
  • Justin Woodall... eh, I don't know. I want to see this kid do well -- particularly considering the MLB contract he gave up to come to Alabama -- but I just don't know at this point. He has obviously gotten a starting job locked up at the end of Spring, but realistically we really have no one behind him. He's essentially won the job by default. I was looking at him a good bit on Saturday, and honestly wasn't too impressed. I really cannot recall any play in which he really stood out and impressed me. He's probably looking better than Marcus Carter at this point, but at this rate I don't see him holding off Mark Barron for long.
  • Rashad Johnson looked good, and has had a nice Spring. He has obviously added some weight, but is still extremely athletic. As long as he stays healthy, I imagine he will be on the All-SEC teams, and will probably be playing on Sunday this time next year.
  • Marquis Johnson has developed nicely as well. He's bulked up a good bit since we saw last him last year against FSU, and overall just seems to be a better player. I doubt he starts this Fall, but he will provide some quality depth. He went out during the game with a mild concussion, but he is seemingly going to be fine.
  • P.J. Fitzgerald had a nice yard per punt average, but still looked pretty shaky. He had a couple of nice punts, but by the same token he almost had a couple of short punts that happened to roll a long way. Obviously there were no returns allowed in the game, and I have a feeling those two short ones would have probably been caught in a live game situation, and dramatically decreased his average. I think he's made some progress over a year ago, but we still have a long way to go in the punting game.
  • Leigh Tiffin looked good, and nailed a pretty long field goal. He also looked considerably improved when it comes to kick-offs. At the very least, it's nice to have such a consistent kicker on the roster, and one with good range as well. I think he has the potential to be the best place-kicker we've had at Alabama since Michael Proctor.