Alabama Spring Game 2013: A-Day Crimson and White Team Analysis
It has been the most anticipated game for Tide fans since, well, January's BCS title game beatdown of Notre Dame. Finally, the A-Day spring game is just around the corner.
Yes, we look forward to this game as if it were the real deal rather than a glorified scrimmage. There is little doubt that Tide fans will fill Bryant-Denny Stadium to near capacity at the very least and hundreds of thousands more will be watching the annual event on live television.
This game will shed some light on a few unanswered questions that the Tide carried through the offseason and give us a look at how the depth chart might shake out going into fall camp.
Here is what to look for in Saturday's A-Day game.
When and Where to Watch
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Al.
When: Saturday, April 20, 3 p.m. ET
Units to Keep an Eye on
The Tide is replacing three of its five starters from a year ago on the front line. Saturday we will get a much clearer picture of who will be joining Cyrus Kouandjio and Anthony Steen in the starting rotation come fall.
The best part of this game is that there will be plenty of action for both the first and second strings, so Tide fans will get a good look at next year's depth as well.
One of the most interesting tandems to watch for will be that of quarterback AJ McCarron and center Ryan Kelly, who is most likely to replace the departed Barrett Jones.
If the Alabama defense had a hole last season, it was in the defensive secondary.
Senior Deion Belue and junior Vinnie Sunseri both came under fire a year ago for their occasional struggles. In all, Alabama returns six players in the secondary with significant experience.
The player to watch here is sophomore Landon Collins. Where he will fit into the rotation has yet to be answered, but Saturday's game will tell us a lot.
It will be a very good sign if the backfield can hang in there against what is expected to be a very high-powered offense.
Top Newcomers to Look out for
Cooper Bateman, Quarterback
The Utah native enrolled early this spring and many Tide fans are wondering if he is the heir apparent to AJ McCarron. While Blake Sims is likely to start for the second team offense, Bateman will surely get his chance to show Alabama what he can do.
O.J. Howard. Tight End
Another early enrollee, Howard was one of the prize gets of February's recruiting class. Widely recognized as one of the top high school tight ends from a year ago, Howard is another freshman that will have Tide fans on the edge of their seats.
Chris Black, Receiver
Black shined in last year's spring game but was lost to injury before the season began. His numbers in earlier scrimmages have been impressive, and he will surely get plenty of chances to shine on Saturday.
What to Expect
Alabama will likely be perched atop the national rankings when they are announced in late summer because of both its offense and it's defense. That trio of national championships Saban has led the Tide to doesn't hurt either.
In this game, though, the offense will be at a significant advantage. Sacks will not be allowed, and Kirby Smart's defense will not be throwing multiple blitz packages at AJ McCarron and the young front line.
The first-string offense will be facing the second-string defense and vice versa.
Look for McCarron to showcase his arm early and often to his vast array of receivers including Amari Cooper and Chris Black.
Running backs T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake will get the bulk of the carries, and there could be quite a bit of scoring in this one.
Remember, though, that the defense is somewhat hamstrung in games like this. Try not to let it worry you if the defense gets beaten up a little. It's going to be just fine when fall rolls around.
Who Will Be Absent
Highly anticipated freshman running back Derrick Henry will be missing after breaking his fibula in practice last week.
Also out for the remainder of spring are linebacker Trey DePriest and cornerback John Fulton.
Linebacker C.J. Mosley along with running backs Jalston Fowler and Dee Hart have been limited to non-contact drills and are unlikely to see significant action if any at all.