4 Star Sports Media
New Year, New QB… Same old Bama
By Stuart Haley
For years Bama fans have never had to question who would take the first snap of the Fall. This upcoming season has been lingering around that very question for the past year, however. If you were unable to watch the game, look no further than here for the biggest takeaways from today’s scrimmage.
While the defense flexed its muscle early on in the scrimmage, it didn’t take long for the athleticism of Jalen Milroe & Ty Simpson to shine. Both quarterbacks showed off their speed with a couple of scrambles each to either score or set up an eventual responding touchdown to the other. Both Milroe and Simpson’s performance was short-lived in the early moments of the game, as we saw Eli Holstein & Dylan Lonergan take over quickly after the start of the 2nd Quarter. Milroe/Simpson each returned as the 2nd Quarter dwindled down, but ultimately were forced to the sidelines by a sound defensive effort.
There was a clear emphasis from the offense to get back to the basics. This is nothing new to fanatics of the program, people have been begging for the Crimson Tide to “Run Da Bawl” for longer than we’d like to admit. That was accomplished today, with freshman sensation Justice Haynes (who scored one rushing and one receiving touchdown) running between the tackles early and often throughout the contest. Caleb Downs, the highly touted incoming defensive back didn’t wait long to show off by picking off a deep pass to end the 1st half inside the end zone.
The defense didn’t skip a beat coming back out for the 2nd Half, tallying their 4th interception on the day off the arm of Eli Holstein. Shortly thereafter Nick Saban flipped back to Jalen and Ty respectively with the 1’s and 2’s. Late in the 4th Quarter Simpson, who had struggled on the deeper throws all day, hit Jermaine Burton for a big-time fly route perfectly in stride leading to yet another Justice Haynes rushing touchdown (his third on the day).
All in all the A-Day Game was an effective Spring practice/scrimmage with a sprinkling of highlight moments for each QB, the highly recruited freshmen, and both defenses.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to pull from the performance of both QBs that would lead anyone to believe there’s a clear #1 after today. Both were tested equally on defensive pressure, playing with top receivers/running backs, and difficulty of throws down the field. Below are a few breakdowns of each individual’s strengths/weaknesses that were apparent.
- Ty Simpson
Simpson showed more accuracy on what most would consider the simpler throws within the offense. Simpson was able to walk the offense down the field with visible ease during the 2-minute drill to end the 1st half, connecting on a couple of intermediate throws and using his athleticism to avoid would-be tacklers to scramble for a first down inside the opposing 25-yard line. But, closed out that drive with a floating interception on the goal line from 20 yards out.
Ty was much more likely to take off running if a play seemingly broke down, most likely due to his inexperience compared to Jalen. That wasn’t always a bad thing, as Simpson made some incredible plays by extending them with his legs.
- Jalen Milroe
Milroe was surprisingly extremely poised while the pocket would close around him throughout the day. Ironically, Milroe answered Simpson’s INT with one of his own on the very next play from scrimmage, a head-scratcher that led to a defensive return downed on the 1-yard line.
The deep throws Milroe connected on were proof of just how much potential this offense has behind his arm/speed. Decision-making has always been a sticking point for Saban signal callers, Milroe showed flashes of brilliance that would lead me to believe he still holds the edge over Simpson going into the Summer months.
What to Expect in 2023
Remember 2009-2013? This upcoming season is leaning more towards looking like the Bama of old. Saban appears to have put aside the up-tempo/outscore-the-opponent-and hang-on-for-dear-life defensive style of play that has swept through college football. Now, what exactly does that look like in 2023 vs. 2009? Not a clue! But I’m eager to see if/how that will work moving forward. I believe it can, it’s just a matter of how.
- The defense reloaded and appears to have not skipped a beat (as if we expected anything less)
- The WR production looks like a rinse & repeat from 2022
- Milroe won the deep throws, Simpson won the scrambles
- Justice Haynes & Caleb Downs are as advertised
- The running game has returned to Bama