As soon as the clock stuck zero, signaling the end of the second quarter in Saturday’s annual A-Day game, the Crimson team ran into Alabama’s home locker room at Bryant-Denny Stadium. There was no lollygagging. Not even for the kid leaning over the edge of the locker room entrance yelling it’s his birthday and begging for autographs.
It was halftime, time to recuperate from the 17-10 deficit to the White team and refuel from the 30 minutes of — for the most part — non-stop action.
“Everybody take something to drink,” said Amy Bragg, Alabama’s director of performance nutrition. “Take something to drink.”
Smucker’s Uncrustables and Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats were placed out on each stool and available to everyone. So, as UA coach Nick Saban raised his voice — “What’s the difference in the game?” — and pointed out some obvious third-down issues on both sides of the ball, Crimson players ate up. Some. Not all.
“I can’t eat,” Alabama linebacker Anfernee Jennings said in post-game interviews. “I’d probably throw up if I go back out there.”
One would think.
The sugar-packed snacks didn’t seem like the healthiest options to consume right before another half of football. But Bragg and Jeff Allen, Alabama’s director of sports medicine and head football athletic trainer, explained why those two quick-eats are actually ideal in this type of situation.
Pick up a Rice Krispies. Notice how light it is. It’s a quick source of carbohydrates, which provide energy, and won’t sit heavy on the stomach.
Uncrustables, a pre-packed peanut butter and jelly with no crust, are the same and provide a more filling effect if someone is actually a bit hungry.
Both also help keep blood sugar levels up.
These are examples of in-performance foods. Bragg said she wouldn’t give players Uncrustables or Rice Krispies on a regular basis. But in this case, since they’re working so hard, there are no worries since they easily burn everything off anyway. She even carries them around the sideline in her sling backpack.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa doesn’t touch the Rice Krispies but said he will sometimes grab an Uncrustables. Linebacker Dylan Moses focuses mainly on hydrating, not so much eating.
Coolers inside locker rooms are stashed with Dasani water bottles, select Gatorade flavors and Revitalyte options. The latter two contain a lot of electrolytes.
There’s also a table with an assortment of goods laid out: Double Bubble gum, Nature Valley granola, Clif bars, Jack Link’s beef jerky, pickle jars and more.
For those like wide receivers DeVonta Smith, Henry Ruggs III, Jaylen Waddle and some unnamed defensive backs, Bragg said she gives them a Gatorade juice pouch — the formal name is a Gatorade Prime Sports Fuel Drink. It’s normally just 4 ounces. One of those alone has 100 calories and is packed full of carbohydrates.
It’s all about maintaining energy. Even A-Day is a 60-minute game, which the Crimson team ultimately lost 31-17.
Afterward, Alabama upped its food game tremendously from the Uncrustables and Rice Krispies. Bragg said UA prepared a complete barbecue back in Coleman Coliseum. Both teams get to dine like kings for the night.
Come Monday, of course, the losing Crimson team will eat beans as the winning White team is served steak.
“Part of the team, man,” Saban said in the locker room right after the A-Day game. “Y’all had opportunities to go out there and play your (butts) off.”
Reach Terrin Waack at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.