How Much Should We Take Away From A-Day?
Another spring has come and gone for the Alabama Crimson Tide, and it all culminated in a heavily attended A-Day game on an absolutely perfect weather day in Bryant-Denny Stadium. A-Day should always be taken with a grain of salt simply due to the fact that it is just a scrimmage and complicated offensive schemes will not be pulled out in front of a national audience, but that doesn’t mean nothing should be taken from it.
First things first, my biggest takeaway was the performance of the defense. For much of the spring, we heard about the improvements on the offensive line and how the group should be stronger this year. While the true “starting five” wasn’t playing together, both defensive units were in the backfield all day, combining for 12 sacks. You could look at this as more of a red flag about the line, but I see it as a positive for the defense.
Malachi Moore was named MVP of the game after a nine tackle and three sack performance that included a pass breakup. I was also impressed with the play recognition of stud freshman Caleb Downs, who looked the part after a spring full of hype perhaps more so than any other freshman in recent memory. Check out his play of the day:
Great job by Caleb Downs (2). Anticipates it, closes fast and then breaks down to make a sound tackle while still delivering a good pop.
— Clint Lamb (@ClintRLamb) April 23, 2023
Now, for the quarterbacks. Perhaps the most concerning thing of the entire day was the number of drops by the receiver group, namely Isaiah Bond and Jermaine Burton, so the QB performances were a bit skewed. However, the short answer here is that nobody really stood out. Jalen Milroe made the throw of the day on a 36-yard dime for a touchdown to Emmanuel Henderson, but he also had a complete head scratcher of an interception right before the half.
Here's a breakdown of Alabama's six touchdowns during Saturday's A-Day scrimmage, including this 36-yard score from Jalen Milroe to Emmanuel Henderson ⬇️
— Tony Tsoukalas (@Tony_Tsoukalas) April 24, 2023
Ty Simpson made some nice throws with a poor interception right before the half as well. The most encouraging quarterback narrative of the game was probably the fact that both freshmen, Eli Holstein and Dylan Lonergan, looked solid in their game action. Is it possible that this QB battle could turn into more than just a two-man race? A-Day certainly brought more questions than answers in this area.
Sideline view of Ty Simpson's big-time juke. pic.twitter.com/6yFk4Wrf88
— Touchdown Alabama (@TDAlabamaMag) April 22, 2023
Freshman RB Justice Haynes, who has received a ton of praise from Nick Saban throughout the spring, found the end zone three times during the game and looked way more advanced than your average freshman back. In an extremely deep RB room, Haynes may prove to be simply too good to keep off the field.
There is still a full summer and fall camp to go, so it’s important to not take too much away from what is essentially a glorified spring scrimmage. But with another spring camp being concluded, it’s just another step towards the season.