Ed. Note: The second scrimmage of the fall is a closed one reserved for members of the Red Elephant Club. Therefore any media or digital reporting about the scrimmage are based upon Saban's remarks or are cobbled together from secondhand accounts. However, if you're very fortunate to be a member, you get to see it first-hand. For the third straight season, we have our man on the scene.
My father and I go to every A-Day. It’s been a bonding time for us since I was old enough to watch football.
I’ve been to games as a young’un where we watched a 3rd string QB go off on a scout defense and said, "that dude is a boss!" only to see him not even make the squad the next fall. I’ve sat with my father at A-Day so hungover as an undergrad I didn’t think I’d make it to halftime to relieve myself in the stalls, but we dissected the hell out of the offensive line and the new QB center exchange after my rally.
Scrimmages are a thanksgiving with your mentors, the person, (grandfather, uncle, pops, or even aunt, grandmother, or mom) who taught you how to appreciate the sport; taught you to respect its intricacies, no matter how much you want that 3rd stinger who showed out to become the next star.
I remember pulling for Bart Raulston because he was the largest human we’d ever signed only to see him never play a game. Seriously, we had to have a new helmet made for Bart.
I only say this because scrimmage observations are like Ryan Lochte stories. You’ll never really know the whole truth, but you’ll gladly accept the other guy’s version.
First of all, I did not focus on the defensive line or outside linebackers as much. Tim Williams, Da'ron Payne, Jonathan Allen, etc. are all proven commodities. I did watch the inside linebackers, the increased role of Rashaan Evans, as well as the play of some younger guys.
Alabama’s defense is absurdly talented, but not quite as deep as last year. The defensive line ate the lunch of 'Bama’s offensive line all day.
Seeing Dakota Ball at the 3-tech on obvious passing downs was reminiscent of Gentry, and I hope that continues throughout the season.
Raekwon Davis is a terrifyingly large human.
Freshman LB Terrell Hall played with the ones, and he played well.
The linebackers knew their assignments, and Reuben Foster was on-point throughout the scrimmage. Foster knows Mike and Will. Shaun Dion-Hamilton knows money (nickel set LB) and Will. Rashaan Evans knows Mike and Will, but also showed game-changing blitzing ability. Don’t be surprised to see Evans be a package guy like Tim Williams was last year. I’ve honestly never seen a linebacker corps exhibit that much lateral speed.
The secondary were enjoying themselves with all of their interceptions (did I mention the offense had a rough day?)
Marlon Humphrey and Minkah Fitzpatrick have locked down the outside corner spots while Anthony Averett has made his case for the nickel following the departure of Maurice Smith.
Averett’s nice pick-six on Cooper Bateman only cemented his position as the nickel starter.
Eddie Jackson seemed to be in command of those guys, and called most of the adjustments.
The line got beat up by the defensive line consistently.
The stunts really bothered Bradley Bozeman and Lester Cotton, but we’re fine there. These guys are tested by the best every day and only need to find some cohesion.
I’ve always worried about center because my father played it, and it’s the only position aside from QB that touches the ball every play. Ross Piersbacher looks to have a knowledge of the schemes and had no bad snaps. His backup on the second team, Josh Casher, had no bad snaps either.
Right tackle Jonah Williams in particular looked liked he had added weight and is surprisingly ready to start as a true freshman.
The Tide did not scrimmage much with the running backs. Both Joshua Jacobs and B.J. Emmons did get carries, though.
In an interesting and exciting quote, Saban said Joshua Jacobs reminds him of Mark Ingram.
B.J. Emmons is the more versatile of the two players, and has softer hands.
I will be honest, I walked into the scrimmage saying, "the hype is bogus, we’re not playing a true freshman quarterback." I’ll channel our inner founder/oracle (OTS,) and say none were particularly good. They all turned the ball over stupidly.
Blake Barnett easily had the worst outing of the QBs. He had two interceptions, one of which was returned for a TD, and coughed up two running back exchange fumbles, that were sure touchdowns.
Barnett has just seemingly not progressed at all since his freshman year: the line gave him little time, but Barnett had sloppy footwork on rollouts, gunned the ball downfield without even knowing if a receiver would be in play. It's as though he doesn't make reads -- he relies upon his gut instincts and arm.
Cooper Bateman also had a pick-six, this one to Averett. His arm strength is just so limited, that passes over 20 yards not an option. Bateman does have very good east-west and short-accuracy, but is just so physically limited.
Jalen Hurts had two picks, one on the last play of the scrimmage during an obvious desperation throw. But, Hurts also led the drives, or was directly responsible for all of the touchdowns scored during the scrimmage.
The coaches only trotted Hurts out after Bateman and Barnett had each played four possessions. However, once Hurts was in, he dominated the rest of the scrimmage.
Jalen Hurts is obviously talented, but I still believe Bateman will lead 'Bama to a win against USC, and Hurts can overtake him against Western Kentucky, with a hopeful start in Oxford.
T.J. Simmons has three or four targets, but dropped several passes.
Robert Foster did not get as many targets as you'd expect, as he rotated with Calvin Ridley. Although he beat coverage when he was in.
ArDarius Stewart had a very nice grab off a deflection and took it for 30-yards. They used him as the high-pointer.
Gehrig Dieter really knows the offense. He is comfortable in the slot and the outside: He got the first Jalen Hurts TD pass off busted coverage running the post. Dieter looks to be battling Robert Foster at the X, and whoever wins will largely depend on the QB.
O.J. Howard was largely MIA in the scrimmage. Hale Hentges blocked well. And, Forristall had a pair of passes tossed his way and dropped both.
The special teams were not featured much, but the kicking situation is not optimal. Adam Griffith has an injured foot and a possibly injured neck ("Griffith's foot has been bothering him, but we're running his neck.")
Walk-on/Ole Miss transfer Andy Pappanastos missed his lone attempt, a 21-yarder.
Xavian Marks was the punt returner
You can tell the coaching staff trusts Trevon Diggs. Diggs was always on the kick return team. He most often was paired with Tony Brown.
Random Coach Saban Thoughts
Coach Saban opened with a comment about giving to Baton Rouge if you can (he’s such a jerk.)
He spoke about how the run-pass option has changed the game ridiculously.
Someone asked him if Saban would send Kirby a Christmas card this year, to which he responded, "work is work, friends are friends."
He advocated for moving kickoffs back to the 40 to increase touchbacks and avoid full-speed collisions. My favorite, though, "when I played, no one knew your name until you made a play on the field. Now? Y'all rub their necks online before they’re even on campus."