I had the privilege of sitting in on another scrimmage, so I thought I’d share my impressions with you of what I observed. It’s late, and I’m to be up early, so please forgive the more-amateur-than-usual nature of this post. Thanks.
QB: Bryce Young was, as expected, the #1 guy. His most exciting play had to be the 90-yard TD pass to Metchie, but he had several other good plays and mostly made good decisions out there. When he didn’t, it usually seemed to have more to do with lack of time than anything else. More on that later.
Paul Tyson played pretty well. He had a nice TD throw of his own to Jameson Williams who beat Kool-Aid McKinstry on the play. He also threw a pick that was almost taken to the house, except Tyson ran him down and shoved him out of bounds inside the ten.
Jalen Milroe is an exciting player to watch, big, athletic, and throws a dart. He does not look as in command as the other two QBs, which should be expected of a freshman, so no surprise there.
RB: IMO all the running backs looked good. As has been true of pretty much his entire career, Brian Robinson didn’t do anything particularly flashy but was strong and tough to bring down for the defense. Roydell Williams, who had plenty of muscle before the got to Tuscaloosa, looks like he’s still benefited from the strength program and had several nice runs. Trey Sanders looks like he’s healthier than ever and may have gotten more carries than any of the other backs.
Jase McClellan was the back I enjoyed watching the most today. He’s got plenty of power, but he absolutely excels at making cuts to gain extra yardage in close quarters. I can’t wait to see him get more touches this year.
WR: John Metchie’s TD was the offensive highlight of the day, and as expected, he looked like the top receiver on the field. Slade Bolden didn’t dazzle me, but he played a ton and didn’t do anything particularly bad, either. Jameson Williams looks like a starter IMO. Ja’Corey Brooks, Agiye Hall, and Traeshon Holden all played well.
I don’t think it happened in the scrimmage, maybe in warmups beforehand, but the best catch of the day was made by JoJo Earle. Bryce sent a pass his way that was under thrown and outside, the kind of ball that plenty of people would have given up on, but Earle laid out and grabbed it before it hit the turf. Who knows, maybe it will mean little going forward, but to me it was incredibly impressive.
TE: The only thing that really grabbed me here was that, for a guy who’s supposedly in the doghouse, Billingsley was in on a helluva lot of plays. I don’t think he started with the first team, but he had to be on the field more than any other tight end or receiver. And I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but if Coach Saban’s problem with Billingsley has anything to do with his vaccination status, he surely disguised that fact well in his comments after the scrimmage. He clearly wants #19 to get with the program, but what he talked about (apologies to Allen Iverson) was practice.
OL: These guys had their issues (Emil Ekiyor was held out, FWIW), but holy steak and potatoes do we have depth here. I think the starters (L-R) were Evan Neal, Javion Cohen, Chris Owens, Tommy Brown, and JC Latham, but don’t quote me on that. Our big guys excelled in run-blocking but often struggled in pass protection. More on that to come.
DL: As is often the case, these giants didn’t do a ton of spectacular stuff, but they also didn’t do much to cause criticism, which means they pretty much did their job. I will say this: Phi Mathis looks like he’s ready for people to talk about him this fall. So much energy.
LB: Speaking of energy, this was the position group of the day. Christian Harris made big plays stopping the run and in pass coverage. Henry To’o To’o looked like he’s been here for a few years already. He had one play where I thought he was gonna kill the quarterback, but thankfully he remembered they play for the same school now. Freshman Dallas Turner had the pick off Paul Tyson, and he looked very good rushing the QB as well. I don’t know how we’ll keep this kid off the field. Drew Sanders played very well. King Mwikuta has nice speed on the outside. Will Anderson is exactly the monster we thought he was. Deontae Lawson made plays. Demouy Kennedy did, too. Chris Braswell and Jaylen Moody both had good days.
This position group is just so deep now, and so, so fast. You’ll never convince me that our OL or QB will see this kind of pressure the rest of the year from anyone. And most if not all the teams we play are going to be up a creek when they attempt to keep these guys out of their own backfields. It’s going to be something to watch, kids.
DB: Good stuff here from the usual suspects (except for DeMarco Hellams, who’s dealing with an ankle injury). Despite getting beat on the one long TD pass, Kool-Aid played well and played a lot. There was a Daniel Wright sighting, and he seemed to do his job. Khyree Jackson looked good. Kristian Story and Terrion Arnold played pretty well. Brian Branch looked good. Marcus Banks had a terrific series when he had the pick on Tyson that began with an equally impressive PBU.
K: Will Reichard is still a stud. That is all.
P: Ty Perine returned from who-knows-where to take the first few punts of the game. The first one was ugly as sin, but he seemed to warm up as the day progressed (I do think he had at least one more shank later on, though). James Burnip, our redshirt freshman from Melbourne, started with three fantastic punts, then added a shank of his own before the day was done. My guess would be that he’ll win the job, but consistency seems to be lacking here at the moment.
All in all, it was a good day. CNS was doing CNS things, directing the show and getting in the ear of anyone who needed it — players, coaches, officials, fans, birds, blades of grass, etc.
It was wonderful being back inside BDS to watch our guys go to work. I won’t make any predictions about trophies or titles, but I do think we’re going to have yet another highly enjoyable team to watch this season. There’s no way that any other program has this level of talent, and despite us coming off another national championship year, there are plenty of people with something to prove. Here’s hoping they achieve it. Roll Tide.