What We’ve Learned From A Day 2021
Saturday felt right. Saturday carried the feeling of a normal Tuscaloosa game day centered around Crimson Tide football.
Bryant-Denny Stadium packed in 47,218 Crimson Tide fans to watch the final scrimmage of Spring training, giving them the first glimpse at the 2021 squad.
With plenty of new faces taking the field, Crimson Tide fans had plenty of names to prepare to cheer for come Fall.
As for what we truly learned from the scrimmage, first and foremost sophomore quarterback Bryce Young is in fact the real deal. He showed tremendous poise in the pocket as well as great accuracy and anticipation.
Young finished the day 25-44 for 333 yards and a 59-yard touchdown to tight end Cameron Latu.
Of course, things weren't perfect for Young. He was swallowed in the pocket on more than one occasion and struggled with downfield accuracy at times. Still, his highlights are enough to fire up fans. Make no mistake, Young earned the game MVP. He's got the goods, and in time the team will form around him.
"He's shown some leadership skills," Slade Bolden said. "There are some plays we'd like to have back"
The young wide receivers for the Crimson Tide presented one of the largest questions for the team as number one option John Metchie was absent from the game. Still, two names emerged to fill out the receiving corp: Traeshon Holden and Agiye Hall.
Holden was Young's favorite target of the day, seeing 14 passes his way, catching nine for 89 yards for the White team. He battled with corner Jaylen Armour-Davis for most of the day. Armour-Davis provided sound coverage as the two traded blows, but it didn't stop Holden from making a name for himself.
Conversely for the Crimson Team, Agiye Hall had the entire fandom raving as he hauled in spectacular passes in succession. He finished his day with four catches for 72 yards, but two targets he missed showed what kind of playmaker he can become. The first came early when Paul Tyson looked deep on a corner route that saw Hall contort his body, spinning mid-air over Ga'Quincy McKinstry.
Hall caught the ball but came down out of bounds. The second play saw Hall beat McKinstry in the fourth quarter, and if not for a missed hold from the corner, Hall nearly hauled in the pass one-handed.
Saban spoke on Hall, saying that it's taken some time for him to bring it together but likes his size and ability to grab contested passes.
"Like any player, when they’re not sure of what they’re doing, they make a lot of mistakes," Saban said. "He's someone we think has a lot of potential."
"He has a will to learn," Bolden added.
The running backs didn't grab much opportunity thanks to subpar offensive line play. The top performers were Roydell Williams and Jace McClellan who both had 12 carries for 43 and 46 yards respectively.
The offensive line's struggles hampered much of the offensive production. The Crimson team started three freshmen: Tommy Brockermeyer, Terrence Ferguson and JC Latham. As a result, Paul Tyson struggled to find any time in the pocket to progress his reads, with immediate pressure affecting him the entire day.
Evan Neal did suit up for the game. He and Chris Owens played very well for the White team, as did Javion Cohen.
Defensively, the Crimson team stood out with it's linebackers Jalen Moody and Deonte Lawson, a freshman who switched teams after it was determined Christian Harris wouldn't be available. The two combined for 11 tackles and each had a tackle for loss. Moody recovered a Bryce Young fumble for a touchdown for the Crimson team's lone touchdown of the day.
The aforementioned Ga'Quincey McKinstry had a solid day despite being opposite of Agiye Hall and his performance. When Hall wasn't targetted, McKinstry was often glued to the hip of Hall. After all, for Hall to have put on a show with his spectacular catches, McKinstry was the one making it difficult on Hall.
“He made a lot plays today, and has a bright future,” Jordan Battle said.
Battle mention McKinstry takes coaching well and displayed that trait today.
Another worrisome outcome of the game was the struggles of Will Reichard. The junior kicker was 2-5 on the day, missing from 52, 44 and 33 yards. His first make was 22-yarder while the ultimate game-winner was from 19. The frustration was apparent after each miss, and his struggles were a surprise to everyone. Apparently, Reichard hadn't missed at any other scrimmage.
“For the most part, we didn’t have any issues all spring long, so we made a lot of practice," Saban said. "I’m not satisfied with where we are — we have a lot of work to do as a team."
“Obviously we had significant number of starters, significant number of players who were out today for medical reasons. I don’t think you can get a total assessment on those guys who didn’t play."
Now, with the post-game ceremonies putting the 18th national championship in the rearview, the 2021 Crimson Tide has taken its first steps towards a new season.