A-Day Doesn’t Resolve QB Situation

Nick Saban probably didn’t expect Alabama’s quarterback situation to be settled by the results of the A-Day Game. Good thing.

The White, made up of the first offense and second defense, defeated the Crimson (first defense, second offense) 20-14 Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium as Alabama completed its 2015 spring practice.

A threat of rain was never realized, but certainly contributed to the smallest A-Day crowd of the Nick Saban era, estimated at 65,175.

The White took a 17-0 halftime lead and was never seriously challenged for the lead.

Jacob Coker drove his White team to a 3-0 lead on an Adam Griffith 49-yard field goal on the first possession of the contest. Coker had opened the game with a 30-yard completion to Robert Foster.

If one didn’t know it was a spring game rather than a real game, it was apparent when the White team faced a fourth-and-14 at the Crimson 40 late in the first quarter and elected to play on. It was a good play as Coker threw a strike to Ardarius Stewart in the end zone for a touchdown. Gunnar Raborn kicked it to a 10-0 lead.

The White had driven to the Crimson 36, but two incompletions were followed by a screen pass to Derrick Henry. Crimson linebacker Reuben Foster, who had already broken up one screen pass at that point (and would break up another later), dropped Foster for a four-yard loss before the Coker-to-Stewart touchdown.

The White had a nice scoring drive before halftime. Tim Williams had set the Crimson up at midfield when he caused a fumble by White backup quarterback Alec Morris. On the next play, however, Cooper Bateman’s pass was intercepted by Jabriel Washington, giving the White the ball at its own 41 with 2:48 to play.

After Morris was sacked on first down, Coker returned to the lineup and completed back-to-back passes to tight end Dakota Ball to get the White into Crimson territory. Derrick Henry had a 13-yard run, but the drive was in peril until Coker connected with Robert Foster down the sideline for 35 yards to the one.

After a couple of runs were short of the goalline, Henry took it in and it was 17-0 at halftime.

Something had to happen in a hurry for the Crimson and it did. After a Crimson drive to start the second half died at the White 37, a Coker pass was picked off by Maurice Smith, who returned it 51 yards for a Crimson touchdown. Griffith’s extra point kick (players occasionally swap sides in a spring game) pulled it to White 17, Crimson 7.

The White had a nice drive from its 40 to the Crimson 11 with Coker hitting three passes to Stewart for 30 yards and Henry rushing three times for 17 yards. But two incompletions forced a 28-yard Griffith field goal and a 20-7 White lead going to the fourth quarter.

Through most of the final stanza, the most exciting thing was Griffith missing a 47-yard field goal attempt with 4:42 to play.

After that, though, a David Cornwell pass was intercepted by Marlon Humphrey for the White deep in Crimson territory. Three plays later, Blake Barnett was intercepted by linebacker Dillon Lee for the Crimson. Lee returned it 32 yards to the White 45.

Cornwell directed a nice drive with pass completions to Ty Flournoy-Smith (16 yards), walk-on tailback Brandon Turner (11), Flournoy-Smith for 9 to the 9, and the final 9 to Parker Barrineu for 9 and a touchdown to pull the Crimson to within 20-14.

Only 1:59 remained, however. The Crimson did get the ball back with 1:32, but the last chance ended with an incompletion with less than a minute to play.

Freshman Blake Barnett took advantage of his last chance – and his only chance as he switched to the White team -- with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Stewart for his second score and a final score of 27-14.

In the quarterback race, Coker completed 14-28 for 183 yards with one intercption and one touchdown; Morris was 7-11 for 60 yards; Cornwell 12-24 for 110 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions; Cooper Bateman 7-11 for 48 yards with one interception; and Blake Barnett, playing for both teams, had combined statistics of 6-9 for 31 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Stewart had 8 receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns, Robert Foster 6 catches for 125 yards, Ronnie  Clark 7-40, and Flournoy-Smith 5-46.

Derrick Henry had 15 rushes for 46 yards and one touchdown.

The A-Day Game was the 15th and final practice of spring training. Although players will be working throughout the remainder of spring and during the summer on their own, practices will resume in August with fall camp.

Bama’s first game of 2015 will be Aug. 30 against Wisconsin at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.


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