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A-Day: A View From Inside the Stadium

The weather was perfect this year and the crowd was as weird as always.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

I was at the A-day game this year specifically looking to give you guys a write up on the early enrollees. Well, there aren't too many of them this year, and only a couple really got any playing time whatsoever. So instead, you're all going to get a big list that echo my abstract thoughts toward the game. It was an interesting day, to say the least, between the emergence of Damien Harris and the two middle aged ladies that got in a fist fight a few rows in front of me.
  • Jonah Williams got worked on his first snap by senior Ryan Anderson, and he struggled throughout the game to slow down the veteran pass rush.
  • As expected, Minkah Fitzpatrick held the outside corner spot opposite Marlon Humphrey, and senior Maurice Smith was the nickel corner (and did an amazing job against Calvin Ridley, who seems to be making the move to slot receiver in 3WR sets).
  • I love watching Humphrey play. Im not sure I've seen a player get as excited about getting to play the game as he does in all of Saban's time here.
  • The second team secondary consisted of Kendall Sheffield and Anthony Averett, with Tony Brown playing the nickel spot. Sheffield is an amazing talent when it comes to shadowing a receiver's routes, and he actually showed a nasty press at the line of scrimmage against a much larger Derek Kief for much of the game.
  • Deionte Thompson has already worked his way onto the back-up free safety spot, and looks to be a natural. Though he never made any big plays, he seemed to be involved in almost everything.
  • Charles Baldwin had a decent debut. He split time with Bradley Bozeman for the second team left tackle. He still has great footwork for an offensive lineman and seemed pretty solid pass blocking, but his run blocking was atrocious.
  • Speaking of offensive linemen, the first team line, from left to right, was Korren Kirven, Lester Cotton, Ross Pierschbacher, Brandon Kennedy, and Jonah Williams. Obviously, star left tackle Cam Robinson was out with an injury, but the line really struggled against the defense, both in run and pass blocking.
  • The second team line, from left to right, was Bradley Bozeman (and Charles Baldwin), Dallas Warmack, J.C. Hassenauer, Alphonse Taylor, and Matt Womack. In particular, I though Womack did an amazing job for much of the game.
  • Christian Miller had a great game, constantly working his way into the backfield to harass Blake Barnett and Jalen Hurts.
  • Keaton Anderson has worked his way up to the second team middle linebacker beside Rashaan Evans. I fully expected that spot to either be Adonis Thomas or Josh McMillon, so that was a bit of a surprise.
  • Cam Sims had a great game as the feature receiver for the second team offense. He's finally looking fast out on the field again, and is definitely the number four receiver headed into the spring.
  • It looks like Calvin Ridley is your lead man for kick and punt returns. ArDarius Stewart, Xavian Marks, Daylon Charlot, and freshman T.J. Simmons followed him on kick returns. Marks and Charlot also were the top two behind Ridley on punts.
  • The early enrollee tight end, Miller Forristall, quietly had a really good game. He made some contested catches across the middle and was the tight end safety valve that we haven't seen in an Alabama offense since Brad Smelly.
  • Obviously, Damien Harris was one of the stars today. However, I thought Bo Scarbrough did quite well, too. Despite the first team defensive line eating up the offensive line, Scarbrough routinely made the first man miss and pushed the pile forward for an extra yard or two. He also showed on quite a few occasions that he's going to be a legitimate threat as a receiver out of the backfield, maybe reminiscent of the days of Greg McElroy throwing to Mark Ingram as a safety valve.
  • Xavian Marks is so tiny. He had an awful wide-open drop out of the slot, but made up for it by converting a third and long on a similar route later in the game.
  • The first team defensive line/linebackers might be the scariest group of human beings I have ever seen. And they didn't even have their ring leader, Jonathan Allen. Tim Williams was a monster and Ryan Anderson put some nasty moves on his would-be blockers. Da'Shawn Hand is 280 pounds, but is built (and moves) like a linebacker. Again... Terrifying
  • Redshirt Freshman Anfernee Jennings quietly had a great game as the Jack linebacker for the number 2 defense. Look for him to be a rotation guy in real game situations this year.
  • All of you saw the QB's, so I won't say much there. Blake Barnett made some of the best throws, but also the most boneheaded decisions. Jalen Hurts probably looked the best overall, especially with his pocket presence. David Cornwell had a really rough game, and Cooper Bateman looks about the same as he always has.

With all of that said, I was pleased with the way the game went. The first team offensive line and quarterback seemed to be the only weak link on the starting squad. The line was missing its star player, Cam Robinson, and is in the middle of a positional experiment, so it can only get better. Lane Kiffin always makes the offense fit the QB when the season rolls around, so I'm not worried about that either. The only other two concerns I have about this team are the depth at running back and on the defensive line. While the top players all look solid, they will be depending on the incoming freshmen to be key depth players (cue arguments over B.J. Emmons qualifying academically).