TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Nick Saban wants everyone to be careful how they evaluate Alabama's quarterback play after the Crimson Tide's A-Day spring game.
Yes, the statistics show Jake Coker and Alec Morris had a better day than Cooper Bateman, David Cornwell and Blake Barnett, but Coker and Morris played with the first-team offense while the other three manned the second-team offense.
In the end, the White team (first-team offense, second-team defense) defeated the Crimson team (first-team defense, second-team offense) 27-14 to earn the steak dinner.
"You're going to look at this and say, 'Well, these two guys played better,' " Saban said Saturday. "Well, if I had to play on those two teams, I would have played better on the White team. That's me playing quarterback. I can still play quarterback. I can sling it a little bit. I can't see very well. I might not be able to avoid the rush like I used to, but I'm just saying they had a much better opportunity."
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Coker, who started the game and played three straight series, looked comfortable at the beginning. Two of those first drives resulted in points, including a 40-yard touchdown to ArDarius Stewart on the third drive. Coker was 10-of-16 for 147 yards and a touchdown in the first 30 minutes. He finished 14-of-28 for 183 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Tide center Ryan Kelly said Coker has "really stepped into a leadership role" heading into his second season with the Tide.
"Knowing a lot of guys now that he can trust and be friends, it helps him a lot to really step into a role where he can care about people and he can also push guys to make the team better," Kelly said. "I think he had a great day today. Really took command of the offense.
"When things weren't going right, he fixed it and made sure we were on the same page before we snapped the ball. So he did a great job today."
Both Cornwell and Barnett threw a touchdown while also throwing two interceptions each.
Overall, the quarterbacks combined to throw six interceptions. Some of them were caused by the defense making good breaks on the ball, while a couple were just awful reads and throws. The key, Saban said, is figuring out the proper way to evaluate all of the signal callers when all of the circumstances are taken into account.
"You kind of take the plays that the quarterback couldn't make because he didn't have a chance to make and you really can't fault him for that," Saban said. "You take the opportunities that maybe they had where maybe they had protection, they had time, they had open people, did they throw the ball in the right place? Were they able to throw it accurately? Did they make good decisions?
With the game being set up to showcase the quarterbacks, there wasn't much to be taken from the running game. Derrick Henry carried the ball 15 times for 46 yards and a score. Kenyan Drake wore a black, non-contact jersey and could only be tagged as he continues to recover from his leg injury. DeSherrius Flowers left the game with a shoulder injury after just one carry while Ronnie Clark struggled to find any room on his attempts (5 carries, 15 yards).
But it was the two wide receivers on the outside -- Stewart and Robert Foster -- who stood out among the offensive players. Stewart caught eight passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns while Foster hauled in six balls for 125 yards. The two were named co-MVPs for the performances.
"I was very pleased with the way our two young receivers played today," Saban said. "They both made plays, they both played with confidence."
The Tide's first-team defense was without multiple starters and key rotation players as Cyrus Jones, A'Shawn Robinson, Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson were sidelined with injuries. Still, Tide linebacker Reggie Ragland didn't feel there was a ton of drop off during the game.
"For the most part, I saw guys talking trash, being real aggressive and competing," Ragland said. "That's what coach wants at the end of the day. Guys who are going to compete on the field and off the field."
As he's tried to do after every spring game, Saban did his best to temper expectations while also not dwelling too much on the negatives. Sure, the turnovers by the offense weren't great, but it's a sign that the defense is at least competing to create them. The defense gave up a few big plays, but that happens occasionally when both sides know what's coming. Point being, Saban said, Saturday was just the Tide's 15th of 15 spring practices. Nothing more, nothing less.
"There can be no great conclusions drawn from any of what happened today, other than we're pleased with what we saw in some of the guys," Saban said. "We'll certainly take that into fall camp and this summer and try to build on it."
-- Contact Anniston Star Sports Writer Marq Burnett at mburnett @Marq_Burnett.