TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Nick Saban and Alabama football players agree: the Crimson Tide’s A-Day spring game is a special day for the program.
A-Day, which is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. CT and will air on ESPN, marks the 15th and final practice of spring. It’s also both the first time Alabama fans will get to see the team since the National Championship Game in January and the final time anyone will see the team until August.
For the format, Alabama coach Nick Saban puts the first-team defense and the second-team offense on the Crimson team while the White team features the first-team offense and the second-team defense. That way, the 1s are able to face the 1s on the other side of the ball.
Saban and a few players explained what A-Day means to them.
Nick Saban, head coach
“We’re looking forward to Saturday. I think it really means a lot to the program, and it really means a lot to our players. It really means a lot to recruiting that we have a tremendous crowd and people show their interest in the team. We don’t like for our team to be complacent in any way. And we certainly don’t want our support and our fans to be complacent in terms of the support that they give our players. This is one opportunity — our players have worked hard through this offseason. Our players have worked hard through this spring practice, so this is the one time for them to have a little bit of fun, show what they can do in front of the fans who they have a tremendous amount of respect for. And respect the support that you give them.
“So hopefully we’ll have a great crowd — it’s supposed to be a nice day — and we’ll get a whole bunch of people out there to show their support for our players and our program. And it’s great tradition here. There’s so many great things that happen on A-Day here. I see people canceling their spring game and that would be like hari-kari around here. You’d never think of doing that because of all the great traditions we have. So we invite everybody to participate in all those things. We’d love to be able to see them come back and have an enjoyable day, especially our former players and all of our fans.”
Hale Hentges, tight end
“Overall, I feel like it’s a great opportunity to showcase what we’ve been working on. I kind of feel like it’s a springboard to the season, and I feel like it’s a good indicator of how well we’ve been playing. And really I feel like it’s a fan’s chance to see us in close action. … So really I just look forward to competing in front of the best fan base in the country.”
Lester Cotton, offensive lineman
“A-Day is when you get you guys and the fans and families out to see what all we’ve put in in the spring, from the championship game. It’s like another step for us to get ready for the season, hold y’all until we get to the season. But I like A-Day because it gives us a chance to play against some really good guys like Terrell [Lewis] and the front seven.”
Jonah Williams, left tackle
“We look at it as our third scrimmage, but it’s our final impression, both on the coaches and on the country. It’s a nationally televised game, so that’s kind of how we look at it. It’s our first statement of 2018.”
Trevon Diggs, cornerback
“It’s a time to compete with the guys. I am looking forward to it. It will be a fun experience to try to beat the other team so I don’t have to eat pork and beans.”