Alabama football entered week three of spring practice Monday, after resting Easter weekend. Weather conditions forced the Crimson Tide to practice indoors, but the leaders in position drills remained the same. Touchdown Alabama Magazine writers Maxwell Taylor and Stephen M. Smith are back with a new quick hits segment, a six-pack of questions recapping today’s practice.
Q1 Stephen: Someone has to step up in the absence of Cam Sims (knee). In Alabama’s first scrimmage Friday, Robert Foster and Raheem Falkins both put in solid performances. Do you see both emerging or just one?
A1 Maxwell: At this point in time, I see Robert Foster as the receiver in good position to compete for Cam Sims’s spot. I am not saying that Raheem Falkins, a junior, can not compete for the opening as well, but he will have some tough competition to deal with. Foster, a former highly touted recruit out of Central Valley High in Monaca Pa., could very well have his breakout season here at the Capstone in 2015, after only recording six receptions for 44 yards last year.
Q2 Stephen: Alabama’s running back depth has decreased from 7 to 5. How much pressure sits on the shoulders of rising freshmen Desherrius Flowers and Damien Harris to step up?
A2 Maxwell: I would have to think a considerable amount, especially taken into account how little senior RB Kenyan Drake probably will be used in the backfield, after the severe injury he had during last year’s 23-17 loss to Ole Miss.
Having Desherrius Flowers getting reps in practice eases some of the pressure. This makes his transition to the college game easier and with a solid finish spring, Flowers could have some serious momentum heading into fall camp. However, Damien Harris is an interesting wild card who will be in the mix for that backup spot behind Henry. Harris, a former five-star recruit and No. 2 running back in the 2015 recruiting class, has a promising mix of size, speed and football IQ that on paper makes him a favorite to win the backup role.
Q3 Stephen: Alabama tried quarterback Cooper Bateman at wide receiver last week. His mechanics have improved as a passer, but he did run a 4.5 in high school. Will he be switched over to receiver?
A3 Maxwell: I don’t believe he will. I think Coach Saban is just experimenting this spring with Cooper Bateman, due to his natural athletic abilities. A ton of people forget how athletic Bateman’s 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame is.
Q4 Stephen: Senior defensive back Geno Smith returned to practice today. True freshman Ronnie Harrison and sophomore Laurence “Hootie” Jones both have impressed head coach Nick Saban with their ball skills. With Maurice Smith improving as well, is it truly over for Geno Smith in Alabama’s secondary? Can he work back to being a starter?
A4 Maxwell: Only time will tell if Geno Smith can regain his starter spot on the depth chart, but it seems doable with so many freshmen additions to the secondary, specifically at the safety position. However, I think the new additions are hungry, talented and love to compete so it won’t be easy for Geno.
Q5 Stephen: Sophomore Ross Pierschbacher started at left guard, during Alabama’s first scrimmage in place of Alphonse Taylor (right knee). Bradley Bozeman is impressing offensive line coach Mario Cristobal, and looks to start at right guard. What is your mock lineup for Alabama’s offensive line?
A5 Maxwell: Cam Robinson at LT, Bradley Bozeman LG (or RG could be great at either guard spot), Alphonse Taylor RG, Ryan Kell C, Grant Hill RT (if healthy but if not Dominick Jackson)
Q6 Stephen: Redshirt freshman cornerback Marlon Humphrey has solid closing speed and exceptional ball skills. Tony Brown will see much field time in 2015, but does Humphrey fit more as a slot corner or on a island against physical receivers?
A6 Maxwell: I feel like Marlon Humphrey should be on the field this year for the Crimson Tide, but I just don’t know where. Humphrey’s had an impressive spring camp so far, and at the very least could compete for a starting spot at the star However, I believe that his game is built for lockdown corner position but with two returning starters and Tony Brown competing for time there, I just don’t see Marlon breaking into that rotation.
- Defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson was carted off the field (ankle).
- Tight end Brandon Green with a solid catch from quarterback Alec Morris.
- Receivers Chris Black and Robert Foster led Alabama in drills.
- Defensive back Geno Smith returned to practice (suspension).
- Freshman RB Bo Scarbrough had surgery today (knee).
- Sophomore Laurence “Hootie” Jones and freshman Ronnie Harrison lined up at safety in Alabama’s nickel defense.
- Ross Pierschbacher replaced Alphonse Taylor at left guard on Alabama’s first-team offensive line.