Another spring game is in the books and, as usual, there was little to be gleaned from a strategic standpoint. This game is all about giving the fans a small taste of football in the offseason and rewarding the players who have worked hard throughout spring camp with a bit of fanfare. It was fun and relatively high scoring as spring games go.
So, what did we see out there? Let’s start with the competition that is at the forefront for everyone.
The quarterback play was erratic, but there was some promise shown
It would have been great if one of the contenders at QB came out and lit the world on fire, announcing to the world that he was clearly the next man up at the most critical position on offense.
You didn’t really expect that to happen though, did you?
Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson were both able to showcase what they do best. Milroe ripped off a 35 yard scramble for a touchdown in the first half and showed off impressive arm strength. Ty Simpson made solid decisions and distributed the ball well while showing off some serious athleticism in his own right.
Unfortunately, both also showed their flaws. Milroe had some great looking passes but also a few awful ones, and the interception he airmailed over the center of the field to Kristian Story was a play that you simply can’t have. He was also sacked eight times. Some of those certainly weren’t his fault, but there was indecision. Jalen led a gorgeous drive to end the game, hitting Malik Benson four straight times including a touchdown. He wasn’t under any pressure on that drive, however, and the pass rush affected him all day otherwise.
Simpson didn’t quite have chemistry with the WRs. He overthrew a TD pass early in the game, then underthrew Burton on a pass that looked as if he thought Burton was more open than he was, then on the next pass failed to put enough air on a ball that Earl Little Jr. made an unreal interception on. Ty’s best ball was a deep shot to Burton late in the game.
Honestly, we don’t know much more about the competition than we did coming in. Most expected that Simpson would better execute from the pocket while Milroe offered rare athleticism, and that’s what happened. For my money, the QB needs to be a great passer and anything he gives you with his legs is a luxury. Ty is closer to that, but it would be tough to rate him as a “great” passer at this point. He did stand in the pocket and deliver against a blitz on a couple of occasions rather than trying to bail, which was great to see.
This is a competition that will continue well into the fall. There is no question that Milroe has truly elite athletic ability, including the arm strength. If he turns out to be the guy, then the staff will simply have to figure out which plays he runs best and roll with it. Even with some improvement, nobody is going to be comparing him to Tua Tagovailoa or Mac Jones from the pocket.
Justice Haynes, Caleb Downs, and Malik Benson all look the part
As mentioned above, Benson kind of came out of nowhere on the last drive of the game. Saban said after the game that Benson is a tremendous player with great speed and hands, and he certainly looked the part on that series. Justice Haynes looked like the best player on the Crimson offense, punching in three TDs on the day. Caleb Downs started at safety and didn’t disappoint. That kid seems to have a sixth sense for the ball and will be fun to watch.
Left tackle is going to be a battle
Elijah Pritchett is a solid road grader but man, he got cooked by the speed rush on multiple occasions. Meanwhile, behemoth freshman Kadyn Proctor started on the Crimson team at the same position and looked outstanding. Pritchett’s future may well be at guard, but I’d fully expect Proctor to start in any case.
The pass rush was fierce
This is one of those good news/bad news deals. Was the pass rush outstanding or was the pass blocking substandard? Either way, Jaheim Oatis and Justin Eboigbe led the way as the pocket collapsed around Milroe all day. Jihaad Campbell was in the backfield an awful lot.
Drops were a major problem
Saban mentioned after the game that the receivers have had a great spring and he was surprised at the number of drops today. This will be something to monitor.
TIght ends are going to be featured more
Eleven total passes were completed to the tight end position on the day, and Saban was displeased that it wasn’t more. Milroe in particular seemed more comfortable throwing the ball to the sideline and Saban complained after the game that they didn’t attack underneath more against Cover Two. Nick is always looking for opportunities to coach.
That’s really about it. We now enter the long, hard offseason. Will Alabama pull someone from the portal to fill a need?