By: Kenneth Harrison
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
Alabama recently played the 2023 Golden Flake A-Day Game.
After 14 spring practices Alabama is taking the first steps to get back on top this season.
The roster and coaching staff was split via a draft earlier in the week as they competed for a celebratory steak dinner.
It ended up going to Team Crimson as they beat Team White, 30-21, in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Defenses normally look good in scrimmages, and this was no exception. Malachi Moore finished with nine tackles, three tackles for loss and a pass breakup and he won the Dixie Howell Memorial Award (MVP of the A-Day Game).
Defensive lineman Tim Smith garnered the Dwight Stephenson Award (Most Valuable Lineman of the A-Day Game). In all, the Crimson defense had three interceptions, 10 tackles for loss and four pass breakups in the victory.
Freshman running back Justice Haynes played well. Haynes combined for 64 total yards and three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) to lead the Crimson squad.
Meanwhile, White’s Malik Benson led all receivers with five catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.
Bama must replace Heisman Trophy quarterback Bryce Young, who declared for the NFL Draft.
Redshirt sophomore Jalen Milroe was Young’s primary backup last year. The QB competition is between him and redshirt freshman Ty Simpson.
Milroe threw for two touchdowns and ran for one score, but he also competed barely higher than 50% of his passes (19 of 37). He also threw two picks.
Simpson, who rushed for 58 yards on six carries, was only 12-of-26 passing with no touchdowns and an interception.
“We’ve tried to build this program here with the guys that we recruit and the people in the program,” Saban said, “but we have had a few guys that have come in and made real impacts on the team, and if we see an opportunity to do that, we’re always looking for a way to make our team better.”
Saban said he was pleased with the two true freshman quarterbacks, Dylan Lonergan and Eli Holstein, who were the No. 5- and No. 6-rated pocket passers in the 2023 class, respectively.
“I’m pleased with the progress they’re making and I think they both have bright futures,” Saban said.
They are working on the quarterbacks’ ability to process the defense.
“Are they playing Cover 2, are they playing Cover 7, are they playing three-deep zone?” Saban said. “So that way you have a plan in your mind, ‘This is what I’m reading, this is where I’m going and this is the progression that I want to go through,’ and trust in that and believe that and not start drifting around in the pocket before you give up on what your read might be. Because I think we have pretty good skill guys. I think we have guys that can make plays.
“… I like both guys’ athleticism to be able to extend plays and get out of trouble and make plays with their feet, which they did a couple times today. But at the same time, I think we’ve got to work on going through progressions and develop confidence in the passing game so that we can distribute the ball to other people who can make plays more effectively and more efficiently.”
Saban did say he was happy with the team’s physicality.
The Crimson Tide will open next season at home against Middle Tennessee State on Sept. 2. The following week, they will host Texas.