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Initial Impressions | The A-Day Autopsy

Haters gonna hate.
Haters gonna hate.
Vasha Hunt

What a beautiful day for football yesterday. Apparently, I was not alone in this sentiment, as a reported seventy eight thousand fans gathered in Bryant Denny stadium to cheer on the team and take in the newest edition of Saban's robot terror squad. As with the previous scrimmages, there was a healthy dose of passing. Unlike the previous scrimmages, the results were much more mixed this go around. Unfortunately for anyone that watched the game on television, coverage cut off with about four minutes left in the game, meaning we missed out on seeing T.J. Yeldon's touchdown run. This was probably all orchestrated by Saban to make sure more people come to next year's game rather than watch from home.

The fightin' Crimson fought valiantly, but ultimately, defensive prowess could not make up for anemic offense and the fightin' White carried the day with a score of 17 to 14. To the victor go the spoils, and in this case, that means a nice steak dinner, while the Crimson team will have to settle for beanie weenies. Perhaps this is the universe's way of tipping the scales a bit since the Tide defense has gotten the lion's share of the praise over the last few years, while the offense put up video-game numbers and languished in relative obscurity.

AJ's day was definitely a below-average outing for him. His first interception, which was returned for a touchdown, was a rather lazy pass where he just threw it up and hoped Cooper would bail him out. The respect that the wide receivers have earned with AJ is certainly not misplaced, but I hope that AJ does not make a habit of leaning too heavily on that trust to take unnecessary risks. His second interception was the result of breaking a cardinal rule. He rolled right all the way to the hash, then turned and threw across his body to the far end of the field. Really an unforgivable throw, and one that you don't want to see your fifth-year senior making. He's going to have to play a good bit differently in the fall if he hopes to dethrone Joe Willy as the best QB in Bama history.

After all of the back-patting I've been giving Blake Sims, I was hoping for a better showing from him in the passing game. There is no way to sugar coat it, folks. He looked dreadful. He only completed 50% of his passes, and routinely threw off-balance and off target. He threw two interceptions and both of them were about as ugly as they get. His one really positive passing play came in the form of a one-yard drag route that Raheem Falkins took for nearly thirty yards.

A few other thoughts from the game:

  • For the second consecutive year, T.J. Yeldon was the player of the game, and it may be time to start discussing renaming next year's game the "Y-Day Game".
  • There was only one field goal attempted (a 29 yarder converted by Foster). The field goal was in the range normally covered by Shelley, and it may or may not be telling that Foster was the one taking the kick.
  • Cooper is a monster. Kid is gonna wreck defensive coordinators' days all season.
  • Ryan Anderson and Dalvin Tomlinson flat out abused Leon Brown on a few occasions. Difficult to know what that means in this context. Could be that our OLB/defensive end depth is good and we have some monsters as second stringers (Gumpin' ain't easy), or it could be that Saban has finally whiffed on a JuCo lineman (he has to eventually).
  • Big surprise to see Cyrus Jones as the starting CB opposite of Belue. I wouldn't have thought there was any chance he'd be ahead of Geno Smith. I thought Geno was really coming on strong at the end of last season, so I really think that this is the result of Jones playing up rather than Smith playing down.
  • Really nice to see Dee Hart not wearing a black uniform. Hopefully, he can stay healthy and do some great things.
  • Nick Perry was out to earn a starting job. He was flying to the ball and making plays all day.
  • I think it safe to say that the reports of Vinnie Sunseri's demise were greatly exaggerated. Heck of a return by Vinnie.
  • No other team in the country can match up with this wide receiver corps from 1-6. Now that we've had a chance to see all of them on the field on the same day, I'm convinced this is the best corps in the country.
  • Alec Morris looked good throwing the ball, but had a hilariously bad turnover after being flustered by a bad snap.
  • O.J. Howard looked like he was lining up at the Y position, which is the "heavy" tight end position that Michael Williams used to play. This is a bit surprising, as Vogler seemingly has that position locked up.
  • Where is the weak spot in this defense? Nose guard or second/third corner back would have to be the guesses, but all of those seem to be pretty solid. Not so bold prediction: this will be a top 3 defense in '13.