TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama football held its first scrimmage of spring practice Saturday.
The Crimson Tide are scheduled to have one more scrimmage this Friday before holding their A-Day spring game on April 22.
Here are some things we learned from the Crimson Tide’s first scrimmage.
This is Jalen Hurts’ team, but Tua Tagovailoa is very good
As the subhead states, this is Jalen Hurts offense/team to lead, but 5-star January enrollee Tua Tagovailoa is really good. Both of those things can be true.
Everyone we talked to about the scrimmage said both Hurts and Tagovailoa were impressive in the scrimmage.
Hurts likely would have to tank as well as have Tagovailoa play out of his mind to lose the job.
Arguably the biggest thing Nick Saban values in a quarterback is being able to trust that he won’t make mistakes. That type of trust comes from experience. It’ll likely be hard for Tagovailoa to get enough reps and/or game time to earn the level of trust Hurts has.
Still, having Tagovailoa around to push him is a good thing for Hurts.
To this point, it appears Hurts is working on the things Saban wants him to and improving nicely.
“He did a good job. He completed over 50 percent of his passes. I think he had four touchdown passes. I thought he did a really good job. I don’t think he threw any interceptions today, so that was good. He has a good understanding of what we’re doing and did a much better job in the pocket and did a really good job with play action passes.” — Saban on Hurts’ performance in the scrimmage.
Alabama’s running back depth is insane
It’s one thing to know a team has a lot of running backs, but it’s another to sort of see the depth in action.
Bo Scarbrough (knee) and B.J. Emmons (foot) were out with injuries. Josh Jacobs was held out because of a thigh bruise. Damien Harris was knocked out of the scrimmage after spraining his foot.
Still, Alabama had two talented freshmen to carry the load in Najee Harris and Brian Robinson. The extra reps will prove to be huge for those two. Alabama is going to need all of its running backs to have a successful season. Given Scarbrough’s injury history, it would be beneficial for the Crimson Tide to have the freshmen develop as fast as possible.
“All those guys are guys that can make a contribution to our team and we’re looking for ways that we can use them,” Saban said.
Calvin Ridley is heading toward breakout junior season
Looking back on it, we probably should have seen Amari Cooper’s breakout junior season coming. He put on a decent amount of muscle during the offseason before his junior year. He put up video game numbers in Alabama’s scrimmage.
We’re not comparing the two players, but Calvin Ridley appears to be on track for a big junior year as well. Like Cooper, Ridley put on muscle this offseason. He had “eight catches” in what Saban called a “big day.”
Alabama released a highlight video from the scrimmage that featured a lot of plays from Ridley. A source who attended the Saturday scrimmage said Hurts and Ridley had a lot of chemistry. That’s great news for Alabama football fans.
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) April 9, 2017
Watch out for Isaiah Buggs
One defensive player repeatedly mentioned was Isaiah Buggs. Buggs was disruptive in the scrimmage, according to someone who attended.
Buggs is going to be a key piece for Alabama this season. The junior college transfer is expected to fill the void left by Dalvin Tomlison and Jonathan Allen.
Buggs, Da’Ron Payne and Da’Shawn Hand should be the top three defensive linemen. Raekwon Davis, Josh Frazier and Quinnen Williams likely will be the next group. That’s a quality group for the Tide.
Still work to be done for the offensive line
For now, Alabama’s offensive line has Jonah Williams at left tackle, Ross Pierschbacher at left guard, Bradley Bozeman at center, Lester Cotton at right guard and Matt Womack at right tackle.
That’s been the first group for much of spring to this point, and that was the group during the scrimmage. This unit is going to need more practices in order to gain chemistry, but the potential is there.
“Do we need to make improvements at the offensive line? I think probably at all positions, there’s no position on our team where we don’t need improvement. But those guys have been a pretty solid group so far, but again, if I was going to be specific, I think pass protection is something that we really need to improve on, being more physical in the running game and getting more movement up front are the things that I would say not just today but all spring long that we really want to emphasize with those players.” — Saban on the offensive line.