Alabama A-Day 2023, Crimson Tide Quarterbacks Experience Highs and Lows
The 2023 Alabama A-Day contest was all about the Crimson Tide stepping into a new era. The Crimson Tide is replacing a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and both coordinators as Nick Saban enters his 17th season as head coach at Alabama.
58,710 fans came to Bryant-Denny Stadium, according to Alabama Athletics statisticians and all their eyes were on the play of the Crimson Tide quarterbacks.
It was an afternoon of highlights and lowlights with consistency being hard to come by from any of the four quarterbacks competing to replace Bryce Young.
Redshirt sophomore Jalen Milroe took the first snaps with the White Team, which is traditionally the first team offense, however Saban clarified on Thursday that the coaches drafted the teams this year and the lineups were not indicative of depth chart position.
Milroe was 19-of-37 with 245 yards passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He utilized his legs effectively, despite wearing a black non-contact jersey, Milroe scored a 35-yard rushing touchdown in the first half to get the White Team on the board.
It's easy to say that the Texan looked better than his single start in 2022 against Texas A&M, however, it is clear that Milroe still has significant room for improvement as a passing quarterback.
Redshirt Freshman Ty Simpson saw significant action behind the second string offensive line and was 12-of-26 for 155 yards and an interception. The Tennessean led a drive late in the first half into the redzone but unfortunately was intercepted by Earl Little II.
"Well you know they made some good plays, they made some bad plays. You know, they played a lot of cover two once they got ahead so, I don't think they took advantage of the throws that they had," said Saban. "The tight end was open down the middle all the time. I kept saying, 'throw it to the tight end' nobody would throw it, so I guess I've got to get back in there."
While Milroe and Simpson have garnered most of the headlines in the spring the Tide brought in two freshman quarterbacks who are also hoping to make their mark.
Dylan Lonergan looked crisp and effective during his time under center, completing 8-of-14 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown. Eli Holstein was just 3-of-6 passing for 61 yards and an interception.
Some of the rocky quarterback play can be credited to Alabama's defense, as the defensive backs were blanketing the receivers throughout the day and the front was very effective at pressuring the young signal callers. Additionally the Tide's receiving options were not all playing at their top capacity as drops were prevalent throughout the afternoon.
Receivers Ja'Corey Brooks and Jermaine Burton were each targeted seven times throughout the contest but each only came away with two receptions.
"We dropped more balls today than I've seen us drop all spring. So that was a little bit surprising actually because the receivers have played really well."
Malik Benson ended up stealing the headlines from the receiver room with the game's final drive. He hauled in several passes in a row from Milroe to finish with five receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown.
It's safe to say the offense is a work in progress at the moment as new offensive coordinator Tommy Rees is still adjusting to the Crimson Tide way. The quarterback's all showed signs of competence on Saturday afternoon, but they will all have to improve to be effective this coming fall.