| FTBL Those focused on offensive issues missing bigger picture from A-Day

12gage

Thread Starter
Century Club
Joined
Oct 27, 2006
Messages
1,418
Reaction score
448
Points
0

With something to prove, Alabama’s defense showed it’s on the right track

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It was similar to what Alabama weather can be like during the spring, sort of all over the place. Here it can fluctuate from cool to hot, followed by rain and then back to cool again, all in the span of an hour or two.

Yes, the conditions were like that at Bryant-Denny Stadium for the Crimson Tide’s annual A-Day game on Saturday, but so was Nick Saban’s postgame press conference.

He began by teasing the guest media coaches from the losing side after the White’s 31-17 victory over the Crimson, then got irked and annoyed by some of the questions from reporters, followed by more joking, and then wrapped up by announcing he was going to have something in his hip fixed.

It was an odd press conference, even for Saban.

Yet his overriding message was that no one should be quick to make any conclusions based off of what they saw, especially by the first-team offense.

“I’m only saying this because you all have a tendency to make somebody a star,” he said.

Early enrollee John Metchie, a wide receiver who could have been going to prom Saturday night, was named the game MVP, and reserve quarterback Mac Jones had the best passing numbers, both while facing the second-team defense.

Remember, Jones was A-Day’s co-MVP last year along with kicker Joseph Bulovas. The last time the expected starting quarterback won the award was Greg McElroy in 2009.

What Saban was trying to do, and had no chance of stopping, was ease the growing angst about Tua Tagovailoa and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, even though they’re still nearly 140 days away having their first official game together.

This may have only been A-Day, but what everyone wanted to see, and unfairly expected, was for the first-team offense be the strength of the team. They craved to see Tagovailia connecting with receivers and scoring almost at ease again, for the offensive line to be physical and imposing, and the running backs to rack up yards.

But Alabama wasn’t playing that game on Saturday.

It didn’t run the offense that we’ll see in the fall.

“We didn’t have a game plan today,” Saban said. “We had the simplest offense and the simplest defense that we could possibly have, so that more players could play and the people that we’re going to play next year will not watch us on ESPN and say, ‘Oh, let’s game plan for all this stuff that they’re going to do.’”

Consequently, Tagovailoa didn’t have his best day. He still completed 19-of-37 passes for 265 yards and a touchdown, but was playing without a right tackle as Jedrick Wills Jr. was out, replacement Matt Womack suffered a shoulder injury early on and the next guys on the pecking order were all on the other team.

So Tagovailoa was sacked four times and regularly pressured. He threw up a bad ball that junior cornerback Trevon Diggs picked off after the outcome had long been decided, plus there were numerous dropped passes.

Don’t fall into the trap in thinking that Tagovailoa’s best days are suddenly behind him, as some will suddenly want you to believe.

“There’s nothing wrong with the guy,” Saban said when asked about the quarterback’s health and the velocity of passes. “He can run fast. He can do everything, he went through the offseason program. I don’t see any difference.”

However, there’s another factor from Saturday that seemed to get almost uniformly ignored:

Alabama’s defense may be better than expected.

Raekwon Davis looked like he might be ready to return to his sacking ways of two years ago and true freshman DJ Dale was credited with one at nose tackle.

At linebacker, even without senior outside lineback Terrell Lewis, fill-in Eyabi Anoma looked the part and was a menace all game long. It’s beginning to come together for him.

Where fans can really start to get excited, though, is with the secondary, which had to replace the top six players a year ago. It has the potential to be very good.

Junior safety Xavier McKinney was a real presence and tied for his side’s lead in tackles with 5.5. At corner, having Diggs back from a fractured foot and paired with Patrick Surtain II gave the defense a talented tandem with the ability to take away an opponent’s top receiving threats.

Since Saban arrived in 2007, Alabama’s almost always had one tall, lanky standout corner, but not two. Not like these.

They changed the way the Crimson team wanted to attack, and a lot of opponents this fall will have no choice but to follow suit. For many those 17 points may look pretty good.

“They were a lot more disciplined,” Tagovailoa said about the secondary.

So no, the quarterback didn’t feel like he played particularly well, and the re-introduction of Sarkisian didn’t go as well as hoped.

But in the big picture, helping them get some redemption from the last two defeats in the National Championship Game (Tagovailoa last year, while Sark was promoted from analyst to offensive coordinator at the end of the 2016 season) was not an A-Day or spring priority.

Saban said it himself with his initial comments of the spring, that the No. 1 thing and objective was for the team to get its mental edge back.

The defense took a step in that direction.

“The most important thing about this is if spring practice was a test, it would be like the test you took at the beginning of the semester, beginning of your class, that test tells you exactly what you need to do throughout the course of the summer and fall camp to get ready to make the good grade on the final,” Saban said. “That’s basically what spring ball does.

“Everybody has to believe the truth of where they are. That’s the only way to improve and that’s what we will try to do as a team.”

So the winds of discord will blow across college football, with critics and naysayers second-guessing the Crimson Tide and Tagovailoa alike throughout the hot summer months.

What they missed were the first signs of the chip on Alabama’s shoulder, which the defense used to its advantage in securing A-Day’s ultimate prize, the bragging rights that serve as gravy for the winning team’s streak dinner.

“We felt like we had a point to prove,” linebacker Anfernee Jennings said.
 

BamaBoyJosh

Verified Member
Scholarship Club
Joined
Jul 15, 2006
Messages
21,059
Reaction score
2,088
Points
0
Those focusing too much on any "issue" are missing the bigger picture... it was a spring game.
 

rocknthefreeworld

Verified Member
Century Club
Joined
Jul 27, 2012
Messages
1,651
Reaction score
685
Points
0
Multiple "sacks" yesterday would have just lead to QB scrambles for positive yards or a checkdown to a dump pass. When you have the black jersey rules in effect that happens.
 

TUSKtimes

Riding The Wave
Crimson Tide Club
Joined
Jun 7, 2016
Messages
6,605
Reaction score
3,400
Points
0
If we decide not to run the hurry up, spread em wide scheme that made our offense look like a video game that will be fine. More plays and time of possession will be fine with me and I'm sure with our defense. And when our defense has to line up with another top-notch spread team I'll get back with you on the rest.
 

17Champs

Extra Point Club
Joined
Aug 23, 2005
Messages
738
Reaction score
240
Points
0
If we decide not to run the hurry up, spread em wide scheme that made our offense look like a video game that will be fine.
Yes. Let's take the ball out of the hands of the best playmakers on the team. :rolleyes:
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Messages
2,611
Reaction score
1,200
Points
0
JMO but TE is perhaps Bama's biggest issue for 2019. Nick may have to take one of these backup OL that is athletic and make a blocking TE out of them for certain situations. #20 and #87 look to be OK for H-back.

I believe #27 RB is going to be a playa this season. I sold all my stock in #22 RB.
 

TerryP

Cenosillicaphobiac
Ivory Club
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
39,845
Reaction score
8,078
Points
0
JMO but TE is perhaps Bama's biggest issue for 2019. Nick may have to take one of these backup OL that is athletic and make a blocking TE out of them for certain situations
We have to consider that we're also looking at Tennison being back in the fall as well as James coming back after Southern Miss.

Did you notice when Latu was in they moved Forristall? I don't see either guy as being that in-line tight end, but I do see Forristall better than Latu in the role. However, that takes Miller out of his better position (in that H role) as he's a "space guy."

When I add all of that together I'm seeing a position that's impossible to evaluate coming out of spring camp. Literally, two gone and two others playing roles they aren't built to play. It's certainly a position group to watch, but not one to fret over with so much missing in spring practices.

(FWIW, I see James as a guy that'll have people asking "who was OJ?")
 

TUSKtimes

Riding The Wave
Crimson Tide Club
Joined
Jun 7, 2016
Messages
6,605
Reaction score
3,400
Points
0
Yes. Let's take the ball out of the hands of the best playmakers on the team. :rolleyes:

No, let's not have our defense out there for most of the game. Let's play with more toughness. Let's get the backs running downfield when we have to have those first downs and TDs.
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Messages
2,611
Reaction score
1,200
Points
0
We have to consider that we're also looking at Tennison being back in the fall as well as James coming back after Southern Miss.

Did you notice when Latu was in they moved Forristall? I don't see either guy as being that in-line tight end, but I do see Forristall better than Latu in the role. However, that takes Miller out of his better position (in that H role) as he's a "space guy."

When I add all of that together I'm seeing a position that's impossible to evaluate coming out of spring camp. Literally, two gone and two others playing roles they aren't built to play. It's certainly a position group to watch, but not one to fret over with so much missing in spring practices.

(FWIW, I see James as a guy that'll have people asking "who was OJ?")
If you're counting on James as a solution then you're reaching....He is one of those guys your read about with such potential yet he's never done shite . He caught a TD yesterday because #10 is in the same group as he with more potential than performance.
 
Last edited:

TerryP

Cenosillicaphobiac
Ivory Club
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
39,845
Reaction score
8,078
Points
0
If you're counting on James as a solution then you're reaching
If by reaching you mean taking the evaluations by coaches and former players on what they've seen from James since his first day on campus...yep, I'm reaching.

.He is one of those guys your read about with suck potential yet he's never done shite
Let's take this comment in context, shall we? He didn't play after Arkansas last year because of his ankle injury. He saw a total of five snaps with the 1's last season (three against Ole Miss was the most) while seeing action in five games.

So, in the end, you're right. We've not seen shit, on Saturday's, on TV. We'll have to join together and set the blame for that move at the feet of Hale and Irv. 🤷‍♂️
 

Tidestalker

Bama Club
Joined
Jul 26, 2015
Messages
3,536
Reaction score
967
Points
0
Article makes a good point. Secondary shaped up real niiiice yesterday. If Diggs and PS are healthy we are in business. McKinney should be ready to roll and Wright/Mayden look the part. Throw in Jobe looking studly and maybe we have a D backfield without a weakness. (Shy Carter should be healthy also)
 

mando

Sideline Club
Joined
Aug 22, 2015
Messages
426
Reaction score
222
Points
0
My takeaway from the article and watching the A-day, the defense is going to be improved and hopefully back to the bama standard. Need more depth in a few positions.... Still hard to tell from a spring game when not all the players were suited up.
 

Top Bottom