TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama’s annual A-Day game may be a lot of things, but it’s still a spring scrimmage.
It’s played with vanilla play-calling, players rotating in and out, and Nick Saban standing in the backfield to both direct and observe. It’s a game-like atmosphere, with the winners getting a steak dinner and the losers relegated to hot dogs and beans during the team banquet, but don’t for a moment dwell too much on the results because the coaches certainly won’t.
With that in mind, here’s a scaled down version of BamaCentral’s game review, with 10 things you might have missed from the 31-17 exhibition:
1] It was senior Jared Mayden who made the hit when junior running back Najee Harris attempted a hurdle, resulting in the running back landing on his head. Saban had to have hated the unnecessary risk to the ball carrier, but probably liked the attitude of the safety subsequently shaking his head no as if to say “not against us.”
2] Junior guard Deonte Brown may be suspended for the start of the regular season, but with starting right tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. (ankle) out, he ended up starting at right guard for the Crimson with Matt Womack sliding over. When Womack left the game with a shoulder injury, sophomore Kendall Randolph was pressed into service.
3] After early enrollee Taulia Tagovailoa entered the game in the second quarter and had a pass picked off on his third play, Saban voiced his displeasure at the White sideline. It wasn’t because of the interception, rather that the freshman was already in the game, going against the pre-planned rotation for the quarterbacks.
4] There was a reason why Scott Cochran wasn’t holding up four fingers and jumping around during the fourth quarter like usual. He was actually on the White staff, and helped organize the special-teams players.
5] Redshirt freshman Slade Bolden was the intended receiver on the pick six, with senior linebacker Joshua McMillon in coverage. Sophomore cornerback Josh Jobe threw the block on freshman quarterback Paul Tyson that helped sophomore linebacker Jaylen Moody reach the end zone.
6] Anyone who was doubting how much the Crimson Tide might use Brian Robinson Jr. this season, the junior running back touched the ball more than any other non-quarterback in the game. He had 11 carries for 42 yards and six receptions for 52 more. No one had more carries, or receptions, on either side.
7] Even through the White won 31-17, the Crimson dominated in time of possession, 35:24-24:36.
8] There were only three penalties (although there were some missed calls including on the play the accompanying photo was taken), and none in the second half. The Crimson was called for pass interference on White’s first touchdown drive on third-and-6. White had a false start later in the possession and when Jobe threw down Henry Ruggs III with something that looked like a wrestling move for a personal foul.
9] Some of the players who were on special-teams duty included Bolden, Eddie Smith, Jobe, Chadarius Townsend, Jalyn Armour-Davis and Ale Kaho on kickoff coverage, with Miller Forristall, Cameron Latu, Kaho and Tyrell Shavers on the returns unit. As previously noted on BamaCentral, special-teams coach Jeff Banks is big on speed.
10] The White won without executing a single play in the red zone (inside the 20).