Alabama Football: Offense shows promise in A-Day win

Apr 13, 2024; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA;  Alabama running back Jam Miller (26) runs the ball behind a
Apr 13, 2024; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama running back Jam Miller (26) runs the ball behind a / Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

In the first A-Day scrimmage under Coach Kalen DeBoer, the Alabama offense defeated the defense by a score of 34-28. The game format and scoring system were somewhat bizarre and were definitely new to Bama fans, but the defense was eventually able to close the gap in what was a lopsided game in favor of the offense.

Even missing some key offensive linemen, the offense looked pretty solid for a spring game. Projected starting guard Jaeden Roberts was limited with an injury, while two more possible starters in tackle Kadyn Proctor and center Parker Brailsford were unavailable. Still, Bama ran the ball effectively. 

Junior Jam Miller led the way with 83 yards and two scores on eight carries. Redshirt freshman Richard Young looked good as well, gaining 29 yards on seven carries with a physical touchdown run. Sophomore Justice Haynes saw limited snaps but also got in the end zone, scoring the game’s first touchdown. 

The quarterback play wasn’t great overall, but Alabama showed that it has more depth at the position than it has had in previous years. Jalen Milroe looked out of rhythm for stretches, completing just 3-9 pass attempts for the game. His three completions went for 100 yards, including two of the better balls of the day on big plays to Germie Bernard. Milroe showed his ability to generate explosives throughout the 2023 season, and that continued into the spring game. To make the next step in his development, he will have to avoid cold stretches that could bog down the offense. 

Redshirt sophomore Ty Simpson (7-12, 102 yards) and redshirt freshmen Dylan Lonergan (8-12, 67 yards) and Austin Mack (6-9, 33 yards) all showed promising qualities. If they can protect the ball, they will gain the trust of the coaching staff even further.

Simpson in particular enters his third season in the program as a confident signal-caller who would likely start at most power conference schools. He looked poised in the pocket and threw some big-time balls, particularly on throws to Bernard, Cole Adams, and Kobe Prentice.

Ty Simpson gives Alabama a backup quarterback that is ready to play for perhaps the first time since Mac Jones in 2019. It’s tough to know how a true freshman Bryce Young would’ve performed in 2020 because the Tide was able to keep him hidden. Jalen Milroe and Paul Tyson certainly weren’t ready in 2021, and Milroe still wasn’t quite there in 2022. In 2023, Simpson and Tyler Buchner were not yet starting-caliber QBs. This fall, however, Bama should have quality depth at the most important position on the field. 

The receiver play was difficult to gauge with so much rotation at the quarterback position. Germie Bernard was clearly a top playmaker with three grabs for a game-high 122 yards, while Kobe Prentice, Cole Adams, and Emmanuel Henderson all made solid contributions. Kendrick Law’s biggest play was a 34-yard run on an end-around.

This receiver room has depth and talent, but some question marks remain: Is there a true alpha WR1 amongst the group? Will Bama turn to the spring portal for another playmaker? How will the Jalen Hale injury impact this room? How much will true freshmen such as Caleb Odom and summer-enrollee Ryan Williams factor into the equation? It may be fall before these questions are answered.

Overall, the offense showed lots of potential and seemed to be catching onto Kalen DeBoer’s offense fairly quickly. Look for the unit to continue to progress as the offseason continues.