Alabama Football: What we know and don’t after two spring scrimmages

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Jalen Hurts
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Jalen Hurts /

Two scrimmages in, with two practices and A-Day to go, what have learned and not learned about Alabama football this spring?

For Alabama football fans, spring football is the appetizer for the entree of the football regular season. It teases but does not satisfy. We want answers to a multitude of questions about the upcoming season. As fans, it is easy to become frustrated. Spring football is not designed to provide much in the way of answers.

Coaches never want to show too much in spring. Why give early season opponents added information to aid their preparation? In addition, there is the Saban-Belichick school of information management. Say only what you choose without deviation. When media reports don’t coincide with the Saban script, some choice words of admonishment are followed by repeating the script.

The result is we learn little unless we can become enlightened by insider information. Nick Saban hates insider information. The paucity of insider information following the second scrimmage suggests Nick’s minions tightened the clamps again. As a result, beyond Saban’s post-scrimmage assessment there is little to report.

Still, there are items for discussion and as such we offer what we know (which is little), what we don’t know and what we think.

The Quarterbacks

Tua did not participate in the second scrimmage after banging his sore finger against a helmet in an earlier practice. It was the second time this spring a helmet slowed down Tua’s recovery. We don’t know what the docs have told Saban but we hope Tua does not play in the A-Day game. Any risk, no matter how minimal, is not worth further harming his finger.

Mac Jones benefitted from the extra work. Saban said this about Jones,

"he’s made more and more good plays. We feel really good about his development. We’re just trying to get him to focus on being the best player that he can be, because he’s going to be in a position this year where he’s not going to be far away from having to play."

Saban was also complimentary of Jalen’s continued development as a pocket passer. What we don’t know is how much Jalen has improved with the addition of Dan Enos as QB coach. Has Enos molded Jalen into a QB who will check down to a second or third receiver, rather than quickly abandoning the pocket? If Tua does not play in the A-Day game, we may see some evidence of how much Jalen has improved.

Mac Jones will get the chance to showcase his improvement. Though he will have to do it with the always-vanilla offense used by Saban in A-Day games.

The Secondary

Nick Saban expressed increased confidence in Trevon Diggs. Diggs maturing into his potential starting role at cornerback would be great news for Alabama football fans. There is considerable optimism about the young safety group. Cornerback is a much bigger concern.

Patrick Surtain Jr. may be good enough to compete for significant playing time at some point in the fall. Expecting him to arrive in summer and be prepared for a starting role in September is not realistic.

The 2018 Alabama football defense needs Trevon and Saivion Smith to lock down the cornerback slots before the end of fall camp. Saban spoke about Diggs,

"I think he’s a lot more confident this year in terms of understanding what he’s supposed to do.As long as he stays focused on that (not staring at the QB), I’m very confident that he can be a very, very good player for us. I’m really kind of encouraged by the progress that he’s made."

Saban always parses praise. Diggs is not where Nick wants him to be but, Saban’s confidence should ease concerns about the CB position.

The Wide Receivers

With Jeudy and Shavers out for the rest of spring, Derek Kief, Xavian Marks and Chadarius Townsend have received extra reps. Assuming the starting wideouts against Louisville will be Jeudy, Devonta Smith, Henry Ruggs III or Shavers, there are two more key roles to be earned in the Tide’s two-deep.

One of those roles will likely be earned by freshman Jaylen Waddle during fall camp. Waddle is an explosive player who will see the field early in his Crimson Tide career. That should mean Kief, Marks and Townsend are competing for the sixth wide receiver slot. Following their progress in the A-Day game will be interesting. Here’s a tip, pay attention to their downfield blocking. Tide receivers have to block to make the two-deep.

That’s it Tide fans, mostly questions, few answers and lots of guesses. That is what spring football is all about.

Next: Ten Tide Football Records that will Never be Broken

After the A-Day game, Tide coaches will hand out a slew of annual, spring practice awards. The spring award winners are a pretty good indication of rising stars for the fall.