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Jumbo Package: Tide returns to practice looking to improve upon scrimmage performance

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The running backs are impressing

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama
After his trial-by-fire, Jared Mayden looks to earn a starting spot at safety.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Freddie Kitchens may or may not win with the Browns, but he’s going to be entertaining along the way.

The birth of a powerhouse swim and dive team is well underway. The men took 7th at NCAA Nationals — their fourth top-10 finish in the past five years and sixth top-15 finish in a row at the national championships. The women placed 14th (its best finish ever) and Kensey McMahon earned All-American honors. Both teams are coached by Denny Pursley.

Tua Tagovailoa spoke to the media yesterday, and recapped his scrimmage as well as what Coach Sark does differently than the Locks/Enos tandem:

“With Coach Sark (Steve Sarkisian), it’s really full-field progression reads. Last year we worked more on RPO (run-pass option) and we had that opportunity to perfect it, and now we’re trying to perfect full-progression reads so reading the entire field this year. I think implementing pure progression reads and RPOs definitely going to be really big for us this season.” Tagovailoa said.

We forget sometimes that he’s only started 15 games.

As is customary, we saved the QB Unit Preview for last, waiting until after the first scrimmage and some feedback from Nick Saban. Mac Jones has had a very good Spring so far, and had a really nice first scrimmage. He’ll need to keep up that progression too if he hopes to hold off Taulia Tagovailoa for the second spot.

AL’s practice notes from yesterday:

The QBs were also drilling toss sweeps with the running backs since timing there is always a key. Then they went into some play-action fakes throwing to the backs after pulling back the handoff. Brian Robinson looks like a natural in the passing game even though he dropped one of the balls. He was a threat catching out of the backfield at nearby Hillcrest High School.

Robinson is set for a breakout season; you can feel it.

We honestly never understood this transfer, but Kyriq McDonald, who entered the Quitter Hole three weeks ago, was apparently very serious about it. He accepted a scholarship offer with Luke Fickell’s Bearcats yesterday (I had to double-check, since the news broke on April 1 — the absolute worst day on the calendar.)

Defensive back Kyriq McDonald has committed to transfer to Cincinnati, according to Chad Brendel of Bearcat Journal. McDonald entered the NCAA transfer portal in early February along with long snapper Scott Meyer and received offers from Florida State, Mississippi State, Louisville, Purdue and Memphis. However, Meyer is still on the Crimson Tide roster and practicing.

This is an interesting spot for him. Fickell, the long-time Buckeye DC under both Urban Meyer and Jim Tressel, runs a multiple-look 4-3 defense. Still, Cincinnati is a defense-first program on the rise in the AAC, and he should see plenty of snaps against the aerial assaults those teams field. Best of luck, Kyriq.

If hoops crootin’ is your thing — and it should be for one local player in particular, Hank South gets you caught up on Nate Oats’ visits and offers in his first week.

The Men’s golf team, though still quite good, is off to a bumpier start than you’d expect after competing for a national title last summer. The 21st ranked Tide finished 9th at this week’s at the John Hayte Invitational at Sawgrass (seriously, they play Sawgrass more than Rory).

The No. 21 Alabama men’s golf team finished play at the 2019 John Hayt Invitational on Monday, closing the two day, 54-hole event in ninth overall with a team total of 902 (294-295-313).

We have a piece coming early next week on Tide Pride and the ticket shakeup that’s going to hit football fans, but for now, the University is both raising prices for students (to roughly the same price as other SEC universities) and is trying to incentivize butts in seats late in the game, where it has been particularly a problem with the student section.

With McDonald’s departure, and Shyheim Carter still tender recovering from a sports hernia, Jared Mayden is getting more looks at starting safety. (More personnel looks here, including an Evan Neal sighting — the mammoth 6’7” lineman was spotted at guard.)

— Mayden was the first-team safety next to Xavier McKinney. It sounds like veteran defensive back Shyheim Carter, who is working back from offseason sports hernia surgery, worked with the first-team defense in dime and then mostly with the twos when he was at safety.

That’s it for today. You have a JP to play with, an entire basketball story — replete with the obligatory terrible pun, and some footbaw. Having no starting QB to discuss, you guys can head over there and fight over the depth chart behind Tua.

Have a good day, and Roll Tide.