“A” lack luster “Day” but some bright spots for Alabama football as White defeats Crimson
On a bright sunny day inside Bryant Denny Stadium Alabama hosted its annual A-Day game where Crimson took on White to wrap up spring camp for the Crimson Tide. After a scoreless first half the White team took the lead in the second and won the game 17-14 in front of 73,506 Alabama fans. It wasn’t exactly the most impressive show of offensive power but head Coach Nick Saban said in the post-game press-conference “Nobody ever has a bad spring game”. It may not have been bad according to Saban, but it didn’t seem to pretty either.
Coach Saban could clearly see that there are gaps in the 2014 squad and made note of it with the statement “We have some players coming in here in the fall who have an opportunity to contribute at key positions.” It was fairly obvious that he was referring to incoming Florida State graduate / transfer Jacob Coker but he didn’t say his name specifically. Saban also made the statement “We recruited a guy, and Blake knows this, that is going to come in and compete in the fall.”
Senior Blake Sims got the most work at QB for the Crimson team as he is tagged as the starter at this point in 2014 while redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman was the starter for the White team. Sims was 13-30 for 178 yards and two interceptions with one of those coming in the third quarter on a screen pass that went to defensive lineman DJ Pettway instead. Pettway took the interception 26 yards for the first score of the game and gave the White team the lead. Bateman was 11-24 for 156 yards but didn’t have an interception. Bateman seemed to have a better day between the two with a couple of long completions and some nice passes over the middle. Neither seemed to have an outstanding day but Bateman was definitely the more consistent of the two on the day.
The surprise of the day came at quarterback, actually make that at punter. Sophomore quarterback Alec Morris came into the game much earlier than expected, as in on the fifth play of the game on a 4th and 18. Morris entered the game as the punter and not as QB. He went 3-7 for nine yards with one interception as quarterback and most of his playing time at the QB spot came in the third quarter and some in the fourth. Morris did however perform punt duty for both teams throughout the entire game with 7 punts for 276 yards for the White and 8 punts for 300 yards for Crimson. He averaged 39.4 and 37.5 respectively with his longest on 46 for White and 51 for Crimson.
Staying on the offensive side of the ball, the wide receivers had a good day as well as the running backs. TJ Yeldon earned the MVP (voted on by the media) and had 11 carries and just shy of 100 with 95 net yards. Kenyan Drake was the next closest with 7 carries for 34 yards and Derrick Henry had 8 carries for 22 yards. The Leading receiver on the day was Chris Black with 78 yards but 55 of those came on one play with .21 seconds remaining on the clock. ArDarius Stewart had two receptions for 59 yards buth the primary receivers on the day were Robert Foster with 4 receptions for 50 yards and Amari Cooper with three receptions for 45 yards.
The Alabama defensive line looked the most stable and consistent on the day with big plays coming from Jonathan Allen, DJ Pettway. Linebacker Reggie Ragland led both defenses with 10 total tackles (5 solo, 5 assists) followed by Dillion Lee with nine total tackles (5 solo, 4 assists) for Crimson. Allen had 6 tackles for Crimson.
The main take-away points from the A-Day game primarily surround the quarterback position, and the kicking game / special teams. Both sides of the line, offense and defense, look fairly stable with opportunity for improvements and adjustments of course. There is considerable talent at the wide receiver position with Cooper, Foster, Falkins, Jones, etc.. as the list seems to go on and on in the receiving corp. The running backs are probably the most stable so whoever the next quarterback is will have a nice stable of tailbacks to lean on.
But all of that really doesn’t mean anything at this point in 2014 other than it gives a baseline to start from in fall camp. Positions can change, players can come and go over the summer and adjustments will be made but one thing is for sure, based on today’s performances, the defense will need to carry the load for now. That, however, should surely change between April and August.
“I’m very encouraged by the team that we have,” Saban said. “I’m very encouraged by the attitude that we have.”
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