Alabama embarks on a transition year.
Lane Kiffin takes over the reins of the offense, and he’ll inherit a new quarterback not named AJ McCarron. Nick Saban knows he has deficiencies to address, and this spring was crucial for Saban to feel like his Tide left their entitlement off the field and out of the locker room.
Here’s what to watch Saturday in Alabama’s spring game:
Nick Saban brought Lane Kiffin in for a particular reason; he believes in his ability to run an explosive offense. He proved it at USC as the offensive coordinator with a boatload of talent. I don’t expect Saban to go to a hurry-up offense, but he’ll let Kiffin use some tempo and no-huddle. That’s what I’m interested in seeing. What direction does this offense go under Kiffin? Saturday may give us a hint, but they surely won’t tip their hat at all. Kiffin’s style of offense will be refreshing to the fans and players, and especially Nick Saban.
All spring, quarterback Blake Sims has put up strong numbers in scrimmages, and he’s starting to separate himself from the other signal callers currently on campus. Sims is 40 of 62 (64.5 percent) for 515 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in back-to-back scrimmages, and he’ll be on display Saturday. Again, this only matters because Sims can make a lasting impression on the coaching staff before FSU transfer Jacob Coker transfers this summer. Coker will have August to beat out Sims and become the starter.
Who will replace Cyrus Kouandjio? Saturday may give us a hint. Leon Brown is the likely favorite at this point, but freshman early enrollee Cameron Robinson has taken first-team reps during spring, and sophomore Brandon Greene has also played well and been more of a spring surprise for a unit that needs players to emerge.
When Eddie Jackson went down earlier this spring with an ACL tear, the pressure immediately shifted to early enrollee cornerback Tony Brown. Brown was the country’s No. 2 overall corner – Bama has the No. 1 overall corner in Marlon Humphrey coming this summer, and he has a chance to win a starting gig immediately. Bradley Sylve has also been taking a ton of reps. Cyrus Jones is the other veteran to keep an eye on, but his game will have to improve to even be an everyday player in 2014. Could Brown win a job this spring? He has every opportunity to, and Saturday we’ll get a first look.
Photo Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports