Alabama Football: 5 Things We Learned About Tide This Spring

Sanjay KirpalaniNational Recruiting AnalystApril 29, 2014

Alabama Football: 5 Things We Learned About Tide This Spring

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    Butch Dill

    Although Alabama's spring game gave Tide fans a small glimpse of what is in store for 2014, there was enough action between the A-Day game and the rest of spring ball to identify some of the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s squad.

    Nick Saban's defense once again looks salty, while the Tide's offense skill talent is among the nation's best.

    However, things remain unsettled at positions such as offensive line and quarterback.

    What are the main lessons we learned from the Tide's spring practices?

OL is Work in Progress

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    USA TODAY Sports

    With the loss of two starters and the offseason transfer of veteran Chad Lindsay, Mario Cristobal entered spring hoping to find depth and consistency up front.

    After a lackluster showing in the spring game, it's clear that this unit has work to do before it takes the field against West Virginia on Aug. 30.

    Ryan Kelly (center), Arie Kouandjio (left guard) and Austin Shepherd (right tackle) appear to be back in the same roles they occupied last season. Leon Brown (right guard) and Cameron Robinson (left tackle) took snaps with the first team in the spring game.

    Regardless of how the rotation shakes out, finding the best five players who can function as a unit remains a challenge heading into fall camp.

RB Rotation Is Scary

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    USA TODAY Sports

    While the situation at offensive line remains in flux, the good news is that the Tide should once again field the most dominant group of running backs in the country.

    At perhaps any other school, junior T.J. Yeldon would be etched in stone as the clear-cut lead back. However, despite winning his third consecutive A-Day MVP award, Yeldon will spend fall trying to fend off the likes of Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake for carries.

    Henry, in particular, appears primed for a much larger role in 2014 after a standout bowl performance and subsequent dominant play in the spring.

    Despite the uncertainty at other positions on offense, it's clear the Tide's backfield is one of the team's biggest strengths heading into the season.

DL Is Loaded

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    Butch Dill

    Although Alabama's spring game gave Tide fans a small glimpse of what is in store for 2014, there was enough action between the A-Day game and the rest of spring ball to identify some of the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s squad.

    Nick Saban's defense once again looks salty, while the Tide's offense skill talent is among the nation's best.

    However, things remain unsettled at positions such as offensive line and quarterback.

    What are the main lessons we learned from the Tide's spring practices?

Amari Cooper Primed for Big Year

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    While it is yet to be determined who will be the Tide's starting quarterback, whichever player emerges will have the luxury of throwing to a top-flight pass catcher in junior Amari Cooper.

    Cooper, who struggled early last season due to nagging injuries, was unstoppable in the Tide's first two scrimmages racking up a combined 19 catches for 287 yards and three touchdowns.

    With Cooper healthy and clearly warming to the system brought in by new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, expect him to regain his place as one the nation's premier playmakers.

QB Job is Jacob Coker's to Lose

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    While he won't arrive in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, until next month, Jacob Coker may have been the biggest individual winner of the spring.

    After the almost inept display from the Tide's quarterbacks during the A-Day game, the Florida State transfer and perceived front-runner in the race to replace AJ McCarron enters the battle on equal footing with his competitors.

    Since none of the other five passers emerged as a clear-cut option, Coker can take control of the race if he can master the offense over the summer.

    After narrowly losing the FSU job to eventual Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, Coker may provide the jolt that the Tide's offense needs to once again operate as one of the nation’s most consistently explosive attacks.