Spring football is a time for experimentation. There are no definitive decisions that need to be made, but spring practice will help determine those decisions down the road.
As per usual, Alabama has lost a substantial number of key contributors on both sides of the ball and they need to find proper replacements. Today, I tackle the offense, Erik Evans will cover the defense. (Special Teams is pretty obvious.)
1. REBUILDING THE OFFENSIVE LINE
STATUS: It’s been well documented that Alabama lost a good deal of experience from last season’s offensive line with the departures of Jonah Williams, Ross Pierschbacher, and Lester Cotton. Add in the four-game suspension of Deonte Brown plus the recent injury of Jedrick Wills and the starting five is in flux.
WHAT TO WATCH: Obviously the way the first team lines up on the first snap is key but also keep an eye on how they swap around positions. Matt Womack could be a tackle or a guard. Chris Owens and Emil Ekiyor could line up at guard and center, etc. Step 2 is seeing what combinations are most effective. You may want to DVR the game for progressed scouting.
2. SECOND TEAM QUARTERBACK
STATUS: Word is going around that veteran back-up QB Mac Jones is not having the best of springs. Meanwhile Tua Tagovailoa’s kid brother Taulia has been making good impressions. Fellow true freshman Paul Tyson is making strides as well.
WHAT TO WATCH: Clearly, Tua will start for Team A. It would be mildly shocking to see anyone other than Jones under center for the first play from Team B. The thing to keep an eye on is how many reps he gets as compared to the other quarterbacks. In years past, the top two guys have gotten the majority of the snaps with the others relegated to a series or two (or less). If Jones gets an early hook and Lia and/or Tyson get a significant amount of playing time, that could be a clue to the QB depth chart for fall camp.
3. WHO WANTS TO START AT TIGHT END?
STATUS: We all knew Hale Hentges was finishing up his eligibility in 2018-19, but who foresaw junior Irv Smith Jr. blowing up the way he did and leaving for the NFL? That leaves quite a void at tight end for Alabama. Miller Forristall is coming off a knee injury that kept him out of most of last season. Kedrick James is suspended for the first four games. Major Tennison has yet to get any significant snaps in two seasons. Jahleel Billingsley does not enroll until the summer term.
WHAT TO WATCH: The Tide has such a deficiency at the position that they are experimenting with linebacker Cameron Latu who played the position in high school. Walk-on senior Giles Amos has been getting a good long look by the Tide coaching staff as well and caught a touchdown pass in the first scrimmage. Forristall should be the first team starter on A-Day mostly because he is the most experienced but by no means is he going to be annointed the starter based on that.
Ed. Note: This is the first of four Things to Watch for the 2019 Alabama A-Day Game. Later this morning, we take a look at the exciting freshman defensive line class. Tomorrow, we’ll break down coaching. And then on Friday, on our companion Roll ‘Bama Roll Podcast Episode 10, we’re breaking down other questions on defense and what to watch this Saturday, notably the Inside Linebackers and Safeties. Later this week, when rosters for the Crimson and White teams are released, we’ll analyze those for you as well. Roll Tide-E