Alabama

Alabama's passing game shines in explosive A-Day game

April 22, 2017

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By outreach@cw.ua.edu (Matthew Speakman)

In the first quarter of Alabama’s A-Day game, quarterback Jalen Hurts connected with Robert Foster on a 65-yard touchdown pass. It was the one thing everyone wanted to see. Could Alabama stretch the field with its passing game? Early on, it looked like the team had made significant strides in its downfield air attack.

Alabama’s quarterbacks combined for 495 yards in the first half of the spring spectacle in front of 72, 326 fans.

“There was a lot of production,” said head coach Nick Saban. “I think all of our quarterbacks are better passers than they were a year ago. First, second and third team guys. So, I think that was encouraging.”

Hurts finished the day with 301 yards and two touchdowns while quarterbacking the Crimson team to a 27-24 victory. He showed the ability to stretch the field, and connected on multiple passes downfield. Hurts seemed to be more comfortable in the pocket. He believes it is due to his added experience.

“I think that comes with the maturity part of it,” Hurts said. “The more reps you get, the older you are, the more comfortable you get.”

Hurts was certainly impressive, but he wasn’t the only quarterback to have a big day. His backup, freshman Tua Tagovailoa, threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns. Both players threw interceptions of the game, but managed to find open targets.

Alabama’s ability to stretch the field with the passing game might have surprised some. Recent A-Day games have been defensive slugfests. Not today. Alabama’s quarterbacks got the best of both defenses.

“All of those guys, they are great quarterbacks, we have a great room,” Hurts said. “We competed well this year. Making each other better. Teaching each other. If they need something, I’ll help them. It’s different for me, because I’m the old guy in the room.”

Multiple Alabama receivers had big days to go along with Tagovailoa and Hurts. Freshman Jerry Jeudy, who won the game’s MVP award while playing for the White team, hauled in five catches for a game-high 134 yards and a touchdown.

Jeudy has been called a clone of fellow receiver Calvin Ridley, and today, he backed up those comparisons. Jeudy was able to make tough catches in traffic, including a touchdown grab with a defender all over him in the second quarter.

“He’s improved well and had a good day today,” Saban said. “We obviously need some young guys to come through for us at receiver. It’s not a position where we have a lot of depth.”

Aside from Jeudy, Foster also turned heads. Foster made an impact at the beginning of the 2015 season before suffering an injury that sidelined him for the rest of the year. Foster came back in the 2016 season, but failed to make much of an impact or earn a spot in the rotation.

Today, he was healthy, and along with his 65-yard touchdown catch, he caught a 50-yard reception. Many of Alabama’s players are excited to see a weapon like Foster make an impact on the offense.

“It’s really good to have (Foster) back and healthy,” said tight end Miller Forristall. “He’s fun to watch and he can move. He’s fun to play with.”

With Alabama’s added focus on the passing game, the running game did not show much in the scrimmage. Alabama’s main contributors from last year, Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough, were both sidelined with injuries. Josh Jacobs, the starter for the Crimson Team, could not find much room to run, finishing with 28 yards. His backup, Tuscaloosa native Brian Robinson, only ran for 21 yards in the game.

Freshman Najee Harris was really the only running back to find success. As the main ball carrier for the white team, Harris ran for 70 yards on 17 carries. Harris put his speed and vision on display when he cut a run back for a 19-yard gain in the second series of the game.

“I think Brian Robinson had a really good spring. I think Najee (Harris) made a lot of progress this spring,” Saban said. “…Theres a lot of competition. I think it’ll make them all better. I think it’s good to have that kind of depth at that position and there maybe a couple of those guys that we try to create a kind of role for so that they can contribute.”

Next up for Alabama is a huge matchup with the Florida State Seminoles. With the spring season coming to an end, Nick Saban thinks there is room for improvement before the Crimson Tide’s opening game on Sept. 2.

“I don’t think we’re an elite team. I think we’re kind of an adequate team,” Saban said.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports

      

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