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Alabama Football: A Day’s Good, Bad and Ugly

A short concise look at the Good, Bad and Ugly of the Alabama A Day Game as seen by Touchdown Alabama’s senior reporter.

See if you agree with the good, bad and ugly. (Photo TDA Magazine)

Alabama Football: A Day’s Good, Bad and Ugly

By: Larry Burton

Over the years the thousands of readers I’ve developed have come to like me because I take an honest, direct and sometimes different take in telling a story that hundreds of other reporters have chosen to follow. With that in mind, here’s the A Day capsule in good, bad and ugly.

Good: Certainly first the weather, what a great day for an A Day. Then there was the first look at Tua Tagovailoa and Mack Jones, what a great insurance policy these guys are. While Tua got the most raves, Jones also looked very capable. Each showed an arm and headiness not usually seen in freshmen. Also good was to see the improvement of Jalen Hurts in stretching the field. If he can do that this season, with his legs and these running backs, opposing defenses will 16 men to cover all the options these quarterbacks can bring to bare.

Then of course there was the other obvious, freshmen Jerry Jeudy, the heir apparent to Calvin Ridley and the next “Julio” type receiver and Najee Harris who may be the next great running back in the long line of great running backs at Alabama. So far, all this good news simply points to the fact the Crimson Tide will be prolific at offense for the foreseeable future.

Unmentioned was someone I was interested in personally, the freshman long snapper, Thomas Fletcher, who had a perfect day. Why that interests me is that the Alabama has an almost unbelievable series of long snappers who were perfect in their entire career. It’s really mind boggling to think of that and Fletcher is the one under the microscope now and seems perfectly capable of continuing the series. I can’t tell you how important it has been to the Tide to never have an errant snap for any punt, field goal or extra point attempt and how many games might have been lost had one occurred. Talk about one of the most important yet most thankless jobs on the team, this is it.

Then there was the defense. Pass rushes seemed good and this seems like another solid Alabama type defense. I could say much more, but it was very obvious that even though I’ll list some bad and ugly, that the good outweighed them both by very wide margins. There was so much talent displayed, so much depth, that everyone who saw this squad assembled could not help but think that this is another championship contending team. If it gets any better praise than that, I don’t know how to express it.

Lastly, punter J.K. Scott got to show his versatility in hitting three of four field goal attempts. Pretty impressive for a guy who wasn’t supposed to have to fill that role too.

Bad: Well, all three quarterbacks of note, Hurts, Tagovailoa and Jones threw some bad throws that were picked. Jones threw two. That was bad, but almost expected given the A Day earliness of the season. Also Ronnie Harrison getting flagged for targeting wasn’t good. Saban even noted how that allowed the other team to score and win the game and that he hoped there were some lessons learned from it.

Then there were some dropped passes, also not to be unexpected for the first “game” that is getting the cobwebs shaken off. Still, it was not what any coach likes to see.

On the offense, there were times when the offensive line seemed “over matched” by the speed rush of the defense on passing situations. Freshman Alex Leatherwood seemed to have trouble against speed rushes, but did look good on running plays. Maybe coaching can get his footwork better. Speaking of missed blocking assignments, the way to the field for a running back is showing you can pass protect on passing plays and freshman Brian Robinson showed that he’ll spend a lot of time on the bench. Despite his size, he was embarrassed on several passing plays he was supposed to block on. He better pick that up quick.

I’d like to say that the sack numbers were bad, but to be fair, some of the sacks would not have been sacks in the real world. These A Day sacks that come from just touching the QB are almost uncountable and laughable, but it is what it is, to use an old Saban quote. Still the offensive line in pass protection could use some work.

Ugly: If Andy Pappanastos is supposed to be the future of placekicking at Alabama, it doesn’t appear to a bright future, but many kickers have a tough first few outings. But overall other than the multitude of empty seats, there was little to be considered really ugly. Considering that this was Saban’s 10th year anniversary A Day game, the great freshmen on display for the first time, the expectations of this team and the big crowds put out by Ohio State and Nebraska as well as the fact that the weather was good for the game, the 74,326 number was ugly. In fact, given the number of empty seats, one could question that number.

If this truly is the number program with the number one fan base, they should show it and be number one. To not do so is, well, just ugly.

Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter

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Larry Burton is a member of the Football Writers of America Association (FWAA) and was the most read SEC and Alabama football writer during his time at Bleacher Report. He has been credentialed by all the major bowls and the University of Alabama. Larry provides some of the best insight in the business through his "Larry's Lowdown" segment with TDA.

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