Alabama football: Spring takeaways, questions heading into the fall
Here are things we learned this spring and questions we still have about the Crimson Tide heading into the summer.
Transfers will have immediate impact again
The 2021 season doesn't seem to be a one-off. Alabama adding transfers who could not only start but have an immediate impact seems like it will become an annual event.
Last year, linebacker Henry To'oTo'o and receiver Jameson Williams started immediately and made an immediate difference. If A-Day is any indication, running back Jahmyr Gibbs and receiver Jermaine Burton are next up.
Burton caught three passes for 36 yards during the spring game. Afterward, Saban called him probably the most consistent receiver this spring.
Gibbs finished his Alabama debut this past Saturday with nine rushing attempts for 100 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown scamper.
Cornerback Eli Ricks could join them in making an impact, but he is in the process of learning the defensive system while competing with Khyree Jackson and Kool-Aid McKinstry to start on the outside. He ran with the second team in the spring game, but Saban said Alabama had to put one of the three on the second team because the staff wanted all three to receive reps.
Plus, Vanderbilt transfer offensive tackle Tyler Steen will be joining the team this summer.
Edge of defense could be strength of the team
Will Anderson Jr. is far from a secret, but A-Day showed he's the headliner for a group filled with talent.
He combined with Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell for seven sacks during the spring game. Anderson didn't even play much in the second half as to give the offense more of a chance. Otherwise, that sack number could have been higher.
Now, A-Day is not a completely real game situation because it's two-hand touch at the quarterback. Plus, as Saban mentioned, Alabama didn't provide much assistance to the offensive line because of limited things the offense was showing in the scrimmage.
Either way, the edge rushers showed explosiveness, strength and power. Opposing offenses will have their hands full this fall.
Alabama in a good spot at RB
That wasn't the case at the end of the 2021 season. Alabama only had two scholarship running backs available then in Brian Robinson Jr. and Trey Sanders.
Robinson is headed to the NFL, but Alabama has restocked at the position. The biggest addition was Gibbs, but it also added a freshman in Jamarion Miller, whom Saban spoke well of this spring.
Plus, Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams seem to be trending in a good direction after suffering knee injuries during the 2021 season. Saban noted how they didn't scrimmage , but they practiced all spring.
Sanders is back, too.
"I kind of like where we’re at at that position, and I hope we can get the guys back healthy and 100% by fall camp," Saban said.
Questions heading into fall
Is A-Day indicative of what's to come for the offensive line?
Alabama's offensive line certainly didn't look good during the spring game, surrendering 10 sacks. But context is needed with that outing.
Two players with significant starting experience were out with injuries in Emil Ekiyor Jr. at right guard and Darrian Dalcourt at center, though Seth McLaughlin filled in at that spot down the stretch. Alabama also has help coming in Steen. Add Ekiyor and possibly Steen at left tackle, and that Crimson Tide offensive line might have fared better Saturday.
And don't forget, that group was facing what will likely be one of the best defensive fronts in the country, if not the best.
It's too early – and perhaps unfair – to judge the offensive line based on Saturday, but the group also didn't inspire confidence.
Is Jamil Burroughs the next star on interior defensive line?
The junior ran with the first-team defense and performed well, tallying two sacks and two tackles for loss. That's a small sample size, but he seems to be trending in the right direction.
He was the first player Saban mentioned when asked postgame who had made the biggest strides on the defensive front this offseason. With Phidarian Mathis going to the NFL, Alabama needs players like Burroughs to step up to provide interior rush when offenses try to counter the Crimson Tide's elite edge rushers.
How long will it take for offense to jell?
The first-team offense struggled to move the ball much at all against the first-team defense on A-Day, whether it be because of pass protection issues, turnovers or other stumbling blocks.
That's expected, considering six of the 11 2021 starters are headed to the NFL Draft. It's going to take time for this new offense to get on the same page to try to return to 2021's level. Having a Heisman-Trophy winner in Bryce Young returning at quarterback is a good place to start.
Nick Kelly covers Alabama football and men's basketball for The Tuscaloosa News, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly