Alabama's A-Day 2018 feels much like the one before it—which is odd given the fact Nick Saban's Crimson Tide came away with a win in the College Football Playoff title game.
In 2017, Saban's side hit this spring contest seeking redemption after a loss at the hands of Clemson. One would think securing a semblance of revenge with a win this time around would create different vibes around the team.
However, this is a Saban-led team with a controversy under center and plenty of talent to replace once again now that the NFL has come calling.
Rest assured, the drama will have the stands packed. A stunning 74,326 Alabama fans showed up last year, with this year seeming like it could break the 90,000 mark and set another record.
2018 Alabama Spring Game
When: Saturday, April 21, at 2 p.m. ET
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium
Live Stream: WatchESPN
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Those hoping to see Tua Tagovailoa are set to be disappointed Saturday.
Tagovailoa, the freshman who came in during the title game and threw for three touchdowns leading to an overtime win, is dealing with a wrist injury and isn't likely to see the field.
"I've already said what his status is," Saban said, according to Creg Stephenson of AL.com. "I said he was out the other day. He reinjured his hand and we were going to hold him out the rest of the spring. So that hasn't changed."
Tagovailoa had replaced the ineffective Jalen Hurts, who had started most of the season and thrown for 2,081 yards and 17 touchdowns against one interception with another 855 yards and eight touchdowns as a runner.
But here's where it gets interesting—Jalen's father, Averion Hurts, told Bleacher Report's Matt Hayes what would happen if his son doesn't win the starting job: "Well, he'd be the biggest free agent in college football history."
The unfortunate Tagovailoa injury puts Saban in an interesting situation, as it might be a way for him to best negotiate this bit of quarterback drama. It also gives Hurts an angle toward a big day and momentum he can ride into the fall.
But again, we're talking about a program with the luxury of two quarterbacks with title-game experience. There is turnover elsewhere worth mentioning, such as the addition of six new on-field assistant coaches.
Defensively, Alabama has to replace defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, defensive lineman Da'Ron Payne and linebacker Rashaan Evans, all likely top-50 picks. There's also safety Ronnie Harrison and corner Levi Wallace, among others.
The defensive line will look to get a big rotational boost from Quinnen Williams next to Raekwon Davis and Isaiah Buggs, while the defensive secondary has a potential new leader with Xavier McKinney, who pitched in a bit last year but has been playing with the first-team defense.
As for newer faces to know, it doesn't get much bigger than new arrival Saivion Smith, who threw down a commitment in December and can help the transitional unit right away, as captured by Hank South of 247 Sports:
Offensively, the Crimson Tide sit in a good spot. The line in front of the quarterbacks is only losing one major name (Bradley Bozeman) and the skill positions will lose out on Calvin Ridley.
Losing Ridley and his 967 yards and five touchdowns hurt, but DeVonta Smith captured the minds of fans last year with his big title-game touchdown and joins what is still a rather experienced core.
If it all sounds mostly routine outside of the quarterback position this year, it is. There is a sense of urgency as there should be when any sort of drama surrounds the most important position of all, but Saban continues to run a tight ship and will do so again Saturday.