The University of Alabama football team takes the practice fields today for the first of a combined 15 spring practices/scrimmages, culminating April 21 at the annual A-Day spring game.
It’s a later start than normal for the Crimson Tide, but the university recognized spring break last week.
There will be a ton of intrigue surrounding several positions on the team. Here are the top story lines heading into the first practice.
Tua or Jalen
There’s no way around it. No matter how much UA coach Nick Saban doesn’t want to discuss it, the subject fo the starting quarterback seems to be a time-honored tradition in Tuscaloosa. As Saban has said this offseason, the possibility of a two-quarterback system is something he would be open to. Regardless, fans of UA and college football will watch both quarterbacks’ performances this spring.
When Jonah Williams exited the national championship game with an injury on the opening drive of the second half, Alex Leatherwood showed his potential. The question now becomes, does Williams keep his left tackle job or will Leatherwood move there and Williams make the move to center? There’s also the question of what happens on the right side of the offensive line. Does Lester Cotton hold onto the job at right guard? Does Matt Womack hold off Jedrick Wills at right tackle? Expect plenty of competition and plenty difference combinations this spring.
This is perhaps the most important area that will need to be addressed this spring. The entire dime defense is gone from 2017. Luckily Deionte Thompson got valuable experience during the playoffs at safety. He’ll be expected to help lead a young group this spring. Players to watch include Xavier McKinney, Daniel Wright, Trevon Diggs, Saivion Smith, Jared Mayden and more. Smith is a junior college transfer who could really make a move towards a starting position over the next month.
Is Mack Wilson ready to lead a unit? Wilson is likely most remembered for his interception return for a touchdown against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, but he’ll be counted on to help fill the shoes of Shaun Dion Hamilton this year. Dylan Moses is a natural linebacker and his growth will be counted on also. Moses played like a freshman at times last season, but his talent was easy for all to spot.
New faces galore
The staff features six new assistant coaches this spring. That’s a ton of turnover year over year even considering one comes from the NCAA now allowing ten assistant coaches instead of nine. And that’s not even counting the new coordinators in Mike Locksley, who coached wide receivers last season, and Tosh Lupoi, who worked with the outside linebackers. How quickly the staff comes together in working with each other during practice and scrimmages will be key.