Alabama’s summer would’ve been far more interesting had one of those two quarterbacks left, but Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa didn’t and will battle for the starting job this fall.
So that’s one major less thing Nick Saban has to worry about right now.
Alabama has several reasons to feel good going into the summer, but there are concerns as well. The defending national champions should be optimistic largely because its defensive line, led by the massive Raekwon Davis (6-7, 308 pounds) and Isaiah Buggs, looks legit as a part of very talented front seven.
However, you can’t replace an entire starting secondary led by Jim Thorpe winner and NFL first-round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick in spring ball. Alabama’s back-end played solid in the A-Day game, but Hurts looked shaky and didn’t have his full collection of receivers as Jerry Jeudy was out with an knee injury.
Plus, tight end Irv Smith Jr. said maybe 20 percent of the offense was utilized that day as new offensive coordinator Michael Locksley and quarterback coach Dan Enos attempted to work out the kinks during spring ball.
The Crimson Tide are going to rely on incoming freshmen to play and provide depth in the secondary. Saban, who spends quality time with the defensive backs in practice, will have the newcomers up to speed, but the jury is still out on that unit.
I get Saban mixed and matched combinations all spring and the defensive line is ahead of that unit, but his offensive line needs much work based on how it looked in the spring game. Not only did the front fail to protect Hurts, who was sacked (tapped) seven times, but it didn’t create much running room for Damien Harris and Najee’ Harris.
This could also be case in which Najee Harris needs to fully embrace being a one-cut and go back. When he does that and doesn’t try to make everybody miss, Harris is special.
Alabama has had issues up front from time-to-time in recent years, but always figured out a winning combination. So that’s comforting for the Tide, but it doesn’t matter who starts at quarterback if Alabama can’t protect him or open holes for its talented ball carriers.
The Tide have won SEC and national titles with an inconsistent kicking game, but Joseph Bulovas just may fix that problem this season. The redshirt freshmen hit five field goals in the A-Day game with two being from 49 and 48 yards.
So, Saban maybe can rest easy about that. Besides, he’s got more pressing matters to address like his offensive line and who is going to play quarterback behind it.
(Duane Rankin is an award-winning columnist/videographer for the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser whose work also can be found in USA TODAY. You can follow him on Twitter @DuaneRankin)
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