TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama's 15 spring practices have come and gone with Saturday's A-Day spring game capping the workouts.
Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban called the spring a mid-term, not a final exam, while adding that his team deserves an incomplete at the moment.
Over the coming months, the players will complete the school semester and begin summer workouts before fall camp and preseason practice rolls around.
But before then, we must put a bow on the spring with a few takeaways from the practices and A-Day game.
1. The starting quarterback job is
If Blake Sims taught us anything, it's that you can't overreact one way or another to how a quarterback plays in Alabama's A-Day game. Sims never looked comfortable in the 2014 A-Day game, but went on to break records as the starting quarterback last fall.
Jake Coker looked comfortable and in control in the first half, with two of his first three drives resulting in points including a 40-yard strike to ArDarius Stewart for a touchdown. But early in the third quarter, Coker threw an inexplicable pass that hit Maurice Smith right between the numbers. Smith returned the interception for a 51-yard touchdown. While it's a small sample, that up-and-down play is one of the reasons Coker hasn't taken complete control of the job.
One underrated thing working in Coker's favor is that his chemistry with his teammates seems to have improved. That was something Coker lacked last fall.
Alec Morris did some nice things, but was off on a few throws. That'll likely improve with more reps. David Cornwell was the most impressive of the three Crimson team quarterbacks. He threw two interceptions, but battled back to throw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Parker Barrineau to keep the game close late in the fourth quarter. Cornwell's redshirt freshman season was mostly filled with recovering from injuries, but he's healthy now and is a serious contender for the job. Blake Barnett needs more time to develop physically, as he looks like a high school senior -- which he technically should be had he not enrolled in January. The jury is still out on Cooper Bateman, who spent time working at wide receiver.
With all that said, the only conclusion that can be made coming out of spring practice and A-Day is that the Tide's current quarterback race is still going, and likely will go through preseason practice.
2. Alabama should be fine at wide receiver.
Alabama's isn't going to replace Amari Cooper. Cooper is going to be a top-5, or at worst top-10, NFL Draft pick in a couple of weeks. So expecting someone to replicate what he did last season isn't fair to anyone involved.
But the play of wide receivers Robert Foster and ArDarius Stewart should have fans optimistic. Both showed good hands, speed and route running during A-Day as the two took home co-MVP awards. Foster, who caught six passes for 125 yards, seems to have all the tools to be a go-to receiver on the outside. He was physical getting off the line of scrimmage, and also
did a good job as a blocker in the run game.
Stewart, who had eight grabs for 118 yards and two scores, has the speed elusiveness to stretch the field. His touchdowns went for 40 and 29 yards, and he beat man coverage on both occasions. Chris Black will round out the top three. He's a veteran and a leader of the group. Other receivers will need to step up to provide depth going forward. That also leaves the door open for 2015 signees Calvin Ridley and Daylon Charlot to find roles. O.J. Howard projects to play a big part in the passing offense. Back-up tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith showed some nice hands during A-Day with five catches for 46 yards. The weapons are there. Now it's a matter of getting guys to play up to their potential.
3. Damien Harris could have a big role once he gets to campus.
In 2013, many questioned why Alabama would sign four top running backs in one recruiting class. As the 2013 class heads into its third year on campus, Derrick Henry is the only running back from the class still on the Tide's roster.
Tyren Jones was dismissed this spring. Altee Tenpenny left after last season while Alvin Kamara, who is now at Tennessee, left after just one year with the Tide.
Those departures, along with some injuries, has left Alabama incredibly thin at running back. Henry, Kenyan Drake, DeSherrius Flower and Ronnie Clark are the Tide's four healthy scholarship running backs after Bo Scarbrough suffered a knee injury that'll likely sideline him until at least midway through the season.
That makes 2015 signee Damien Harris even more important. Considered a luxury at the time, the five-star prospect will have a golden opportunity to contribute from day one once he arrives this summer. Based on how the Tide wants to use Drake in multiple roles, it would be preferable to have another feature back behind Henry to fully exploit all of Drake's talents. Harris can be that player. There'll be a learning curve when it comes to picking up the playbook and blocking schemes. But running back, like wide receiver, is probably the easiest position to play early in a career.
4. The secondary is still a question mark, but the group has playmakers.
It's tough to completely judge Alabama's secondary coming out of spring practice because so many players were out, limited or changing positions.
Cyrus Jones is sure to earn a starting spot when he fully recovers from his hip injury this fall. Eddie Jackson moved from cornerback to safety. Geno Smith missed a week after his DUI arrest. Hootie Jones was limited for the final week or so with an ankle injury.
Still, the Tide's secondary is filled with young, talented players. Tony Brown has improved from year one to year two, and should have the one of the starting cornerback jobs with Jackson moving to safety.
There are also veterans like Bradley Sylve, Jabriel Washington, Maurice Smith, Anthony Averett and Jonathan Cook competing for spots. Young guys like redshirt freshman Marlon Humphrey and January enrollee Ronnie Harrison will be tough to keep off the field at cornerback and safety, respectively, as each has made tremendous strides during their short times on campus.
Luckily for Saban and defensive backs coach Mel Tucker they have a few months to figure out which combination gives the Tide the best chance to be successful.
-- Contact Anniston Star Sports Writer Marq Burnett on Twitter @Marq_Burnett.