Saban cautions about A-Day statistics as White tops Crimson, 31-17

Mac Jones and game MVP John Metchie post best numbers before an announced crowd of 62,219

Nick Saban sounded almost like ESPN’s Lee Corso after Alabama’s A-Day game. It was as if he was saying, “Not so fast, my friend.”

Those weren’t his exact words about standout statistical performances by game MVP John Metchie and last year’s MVP Mac Jones, who probably was second in this year’s media balloting for the Dixie Howell Award as A-Day’s Most Valuable Player.

Jones threw for 271 yards on 19-of-23 passing. He had a pair of touchdowns and one interception as he helped guide the White to a 31-17 win over Tua Tagovailoa and the Crimson squad.

True freshman Metchie hauled in five passes for 133 yards, including a 49-yard bomb in the first quarter.

However, Saban advised the media in his post-game press conference to not make too much of either player’s performance.

On Metchie’s day, Saban said, “I mean, he did a good job, but … what’s the level of competition? Would he catch all those passes if 2 [Patrick Surtain II] or 7 [Trevon Diggs] were covering him? I don’t know. When he does that, that’s good.

“Relative to what he had to do today, he did an outstanding job. He made some good catches. He didn’t drop the ball. He plays fast. He has some strength. I think the guy is going to help us next year and I think he’ll be a good player for us.

“I’m only saying this because you all [in the media] have a tendency to make somebody a star, and when you do that, you create a problem for us as coaches. It is what it is, and let’s don’t go down that road after one spring game.”

For Jones, it was his second impressive spring performance, though word had it the redshirt sophomore struggled some during the other stadium scrimmages when he may have been facing tougher defense.

Said Saban: “Mack played well. He took advantage of situations. I don’t think you can read too much into how guys did in the game because you’ve got to look at level of competition when you look at a player. Who’s he playing against? That makes a difference in how successful they are. You’ve got to look at that in terms of today’s performances as well.”

Tua Tagovailoa didn’t have his best performance, going 19-for-37 for 265 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Saban said, “Tua’s great. There’s nothing wrong with him. He had some balls dropped (around five) and I’m sure he’d like to take back some throws.”

Tua added, “We just didn’t execute as well as we wanted to and as well as we expected on offense. I thought [the secondary] did a tremendous job of not falling for a lot things they did in practice. They were a lot more disciplined out there. They played as one.”

One of the key pieces of that secondary is junior safety Xavier McKinney, who finished with 5.5 tackles including one for a two-yard loss for the steak-winning White team.

“We’re creating good chemistry,” McKinney said. “I feel like we’ve done a good job with not just on the field stuff but off the field, just hanging out with each other and just being around each other. I feel like that’s good for us and we’re starting to play with a little more fun when we’re out there and less [being] anxious and more relaxed.”

True freshman Shane Lee led all tacklers with seven playing on the Crimson side. Senior weakside linebacker Joshua McMillon had 5.5 for the winning team, including one for a loss of three yards.

One area of disappointment for Saban was the running game, although it wasn't a big priority in the game, either. Brian Robinson Jr. led all rushers with 42 yards for the White, while Najee Harris led the Crimson with 23 yards on nine carries, but he did open the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run.

Junior wide receiver Jerry Jeudy had 104 yards on five catches for the Crimson, including a 54-yard touchdown to close the scoring.