White team edges Crimson in Alabama's A-Day game

Anniston StarApril 19, 2014 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Nick Saban stepped to the podium, smiled and gave a disclaimer.

“No one ever has a bad spring,” he said. “Let’s start with that.”

In the coaches eyes, the spring game is just practice No. 15 of a long, grueling spring. But to the untrained eye, Alabama’s A-Day game revealed a shaky first-team offensive line, a first-team quarterback who struggled to make plays against the first-team defense and a kicking game that left much to be desired.

Led by the first-team defense and the second-team offense, the White pulled off a 17-13 victory over the Crimson team, which featured the first-team offense and the second team defense.

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However one chooses to phrase it, Alabama football has a long way to go before it’s ready for game action.

Still, Saban warned against premature overreactions to the Crimson Tide’s Saturday scrimmage. “I think everybody needs to understand that in games like today, we really limit what we do on offense and we really limit what we do on defense,” Saban said.

“We really don’t try to feature players. That may be a little bit of a disadvantage sometimes for our players. Blake Sims, there are probably some things that he can do as a quarterback that we really don’t feature in this game.

“And for him to be an effective player at that position, in fairness to him, it’s probably good for us to do things like that.” The one bright spot for the first-team offense was the play of junior running back T.J. Yeldon, who won his third straight MVP after rushing for 95 yards and a touchdown. After what were described as two successful scrimmages, Sims didn’t put his best foot forward in front of the 73,506 fans in attendance.

Sims completed just 13 of 30 passes for 178 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

He looked out of sync at times and the offense suffered. But it wasn’t all on Sims.

The offensive line didn’t always give him a clean pocket and there were some drops by his wide receivers.

On his first interception, defensive lineman D.J. Pettway intercepted a screen pass and returned it for the first touchdown of the game.

But Saban said that one was on freshman left tackle Cam Robinson, who blocked the wrong guy on the play.

“Blake had a really good spring and he did a really good job in the scrimmages,” Saban said.

“When the game speeded up a little bit, I thought he was trying to speed up with it rather than staying in his rhythm.

“He was little a bit like a baseball pitcher, thinking he has to throw it harder and all of a sudden he can’t throw a strike. … I do think there are a lot of things that Blake could do to be an effective quarterback that we didn’t do in this game today.”

As far as the first-defense goes, they looked dominant at times, particularly the front seven.

They pushed the pocket and didn’t allow very many big plays.

Linebacker Reggie Ragland led the way with 10 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and an interception. “You have to give the defense some credit,” Saban said.

“I really thought that our front people on defense made a lot of improvement this spring. We’re more athletic, we probably have more depth and we have more guys that can rush. That sort of showed up today in the game a little bit.”

For the second team offense, quarterback Cooper Bateman went 11-of-24 for 156 yards and a touchdown. Alec Morris completed 3 of 7 passes for nine yards and an interception.

Morris spent most of his day punting, booming 15 total kicks for an average of 39.4 yards for the White team and 37.5 yards for the Crimson team. He pinned five total kicks inside the 20-yard line.

The second-team defense consistently put pressure on the quarterbacks and always seemed to be in the backfield.

The second unit had six sacks and 15 tackles for loss. Sophomore Jonathan Allen led the way with six tackles, two sacks and four tackles for loss. Allen, along with Pettway, won the Dwight Stephenson Lineman award.

As for the kicking game, Adam Griffith never found his rhythm.

He missed his first attempt from 30 yards, had his second kick blocked, but connected on the third from 41 yards out.

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