3 Things to Watch For At Alabama’s A-Day Game
Spring practice comes to a close on Saturday following Alabama's annual A-Day game. There are significant changes in this year's roster and many new players will have to quickly make an impact. Several questions and concerns surrounded the Crimson Tide this spring and we'll have as many answers as we can get until August.
The biggest concern was replacing All-American quarterback AJ McCarron, and Blake Sims quickly made his presence felt in the quarterback race. Sims will be the number one quarterback at the A-Day game and will remain in the position until Jacob Coker comes to town to challenge him. Plenty of concerns remain, but here are three things to watch for in this year's A-Day game.
3. Offensive Line
This year will be the second consecutive season Alabama has had to replace two starters on the offensive line. Left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and right guard Anthony Steen leave two voids that will be difficult to fill. Highly touted early enrollee Cameron Robinson has consistently worked at left tackle. He seems to be the favorite as of right now, but does face tough competition from junior Brandon Greene. Junior college transfer Leon Brown has taken the most snaps at right guard and he will likely be the starter in the A-Day game. LT Cameron Robinson, LG Arie Kouandjio, C Ryan Kelly, RG Leon Brown, and RT Austin Shepherd are the five guys to beat on the offensive line. RT Grant Hill, RG Alphonse Taylor, LG Bradley Bozeman, and LT Brandon Greene are four guys that still can win a starting job following A-Day.
The loss of cornerback Eddie Jackson to an ACL injury was a major blow to an already weak secondary. John Fulton and Deion Belue graduated so now it is up to a couple of younger guys in the secondary to step up. Bradley Sylve and Cyrus Jones have seen even more action with Eddie Jackson's injury. Early enrollee freshman Tony Brown has practiced, but may wear a non-contact jersey in the A-Day game due to an injury he suffered running track. Landon Collins and Jarrick Williams have duties covered at safety, but Geno Smith and Nick Perry should also see plenty of looks at the position this Saturday. Redshirt freshman Jonathan Cook and true freshman Hootie Jones will likely play second team on Saturday, but they can finding playing time this season in this young secondary.
1. Special Teams
Special Teams has been a concern due to lack of depth. Alabama lost both kicker Cade Foster and punter Cody Mandell to graduation. Adam Griffith is seeing a great deal of reps at both kicker and punter. The Crimson Tide signed JK Scott in the offseason, but he will not enroll until the fall. Replacing Cody Mandell at punter has been no easy task. Besides Griffith, Alabama has walk-on punters John Pizzitola and Adrian Lamothe to punt.This is not necessarily a bad thing because Mandell was a walk-on. Quarterback Alec Morris has even had to step up as a reserve punter this spring due to lack of depth. The A-Day game might show us if special teams will be a serious area of concern this year.