TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama is gearing up for its second scrimmage of spring practice today inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. The closed workout gives the Crimson Tide’s coaching staff an opportunity to see how players respond and how much information they’ve retained from the week when they are in game-type situations.
This is the Tide’s last scrimmage, and the team will have just two more practices to get ready for its A-Day spring game on April 16.
Here are three things to watch for heading into Saturday’s scrimmage:
Speaking to reporters this week, Alabama coach Nick Saban said Cooper Bateman and David Cornwell were the two quarterbacks that “played the best” in the Tide’s first scrimmage. Regarding the young quarterbacks, Saban said Blake Barnett and Jalen Hurts showed they have “tremendous upside,” but also struggled in areas where it is expected from young players.
Following another week of preparation, will a quarterback separate himself from the group? Saban has praised Bateman for his knowledge of the offense. Teammates have talked up Bateman’s athleticism and his command in the huddle. For Cornwell, Saban likes his arm strength and accuracy. Teammates have said Cornwell is making great throws during practice. Both have benefits they can bring to Alabama’s offense. Bateman is experienced and arguably the best athlete in the group. Cornwell is the best overall passer in the group. This scrimmage could be the time where one of those guys “takes the bull by the horns,” as Saban likes to say.
According to a source who was at the first scrimmage, Alabama used two different “first-team offensive lines.” One had Korren Kirven at left tackle, Bradley Bozeman at left guard, Ross Pierschbacher at center, Brandon Kennedy at right guard and Lester Cotton at right tackle. The second one had Jonah Williams at left tackle, Cotton at left guard, Pierschbacher at center, Kennedy at right guard and Bozeman at right tackle.
There are a few things to takeaway from that. First, Pierschbacher is the guy at center. That’s impressive for a guy who started 15 games at left guard last season. Next, Cotton is one of the best five linemen on campus. Saban has spoken highly of him all spring. The coaching staff is working him at multiple positions to find a spot for him. He can play both guard and tackle, which could be a big plus for the line if someone were to get injured. Lastly, Kennedy has really progressed from last year and is pushing for a starting job in his second year on campus. Saban has also spoken highly of Kennedy this spring.
After last week’s scrimmage, Saban mentioned running back Bo Scarbrough and wide receiver ArDarius Stewart as two of the playmakers who had big days. According to statistics provided by Alabama’s media relations staff, Scarbrough rushed for 132 yards and three touchdowns on just nine carries. Stewart caught seven passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
According to sources who were at the scrimmage, Scarbrough broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and outraced defensive back Tony Brown for a 90-plus yard touchdown. That’s impressive for a guy listed at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds.
Heading into Saturday’s scrimmage, who are some of the other playmakers that could step up and get mentioned by Saban?