As much as junior linebacker Dylan Moses was looking forward to his third steak dinner after the White team defeated Crimson team 31-17 in Saturday’s A-Day game, it paled in comparison to the feeling of getting back on the field in front of a crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

“It feels good, especially after the loss we took against Clemson (in the national title game), but it’s great because we are able to better ourselves, make improvements and sharpen up some things,” said Moses, who finished with five tackles.

Among the White team’s defensive highlights, sophomore Jaylen Moody scored on a 30-yard interception return to take a 31-10 lead in the third quarter.

“I feel like we did pretty good as far as turnovers and stuff today during the spring game, especially our first team and especially Jaylen Moody with the pick-six, that was pretty good,” Moses said. “It was good to see younger guys stepping up and doing a good job and everyone playing as a team.”

Safety Xavier McKinney, who finished with 5.5 tackles alongside linebacker Joshua McMillon, was pleased with the growth the defense had made leading up to A-Day.

“I thought we have done a good job of progressing throughout the spring,” McKinney said. “I felt like our first couple scrimmages were OK, they were mediocre, but we worked on it throughout practice and we got better throughout each practice. I feel like we’ve still got a lot of work to do, but I think it is coming along and I think we’ll have a great defense.”

McKinney said the secondary is coming together thanks to its chemistry both on and off the field, which has continued to develop throughout the spring. Fellow safety Jared Mayden finished with four tackles.

“Being around each other, I feel like that is good for us. We are starting to play with a little more fun when we are out there and less anxious to do stuff and more relaxed and just having fun out there,” McKinney said. “When you have the off field chemistry it creates on field chemistry just off of communication, just knowing where one DB might be and where the other might be, so that definitely helps when you get on the field.”

Early enrollee linebacker Shane Lee led the second-string defense with seven tackles and an 18-yard interception reuturn to set up the Crimson team’s first touchdown. Nigel Knott had 5.5 tackles and Eddie Smith had 3.5 tackles and an interception.

“Even though they were on the Crimson side, we still wanted to make sure they did a good job on their side of the ball, which I thought they did really well,” McKinney said. “It was good to see them compete how they did.”

Reach Joey Chandler at joey.chandler@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223

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