Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Key takeaways from the first A-Day of the DeBoer era

CW/ Jennifer Stroud

Saturday’s A-Day exhibition game marked the end of Alabama’s spring football training and the beginning of new head coach Kalen DeBoer’s coaching era.  

Despite fans’ questions about whether DeBoer could step up and create a competitive SEC team, he, as quarterback Jalen Milroe’s famous saying goes, let all the naysayers know. And from what offensive lineman Miles McVay had to say, he didn’t flinch once. 

“I feel like that’s why he was the right guy for the job,” McVay said. “I feel like whoever took this job had the heart because they knew what they were succeeding after Coach Saban. Just to take this job and have the pride to do so had my respect off-rip. Anybody who took this job would have my respect off rip. He just continues to earn [respect]  and continues to prove why he was the guy for the job.” 


A-Day allows the patrons of Bryant-Denny Stadium to see all of Alabama’s quarterback potential. Although most people expected Milroe to be the star of the show, throughout the spring, backup quarterback Ty Simpson has also made leaps and bounds compared with the games he played in last season.  

Simpson threw 2 more yards than Milroe but ended up with a completion percentage 25% higher than Milroe.  

“He [Simpson] does a great job back there,” DeBoer said, adding, “He has just been consistent and improved throughout the spring, never really had any drops, and each and every practice. So you see what he does out there, and he’s accurate.” 

Although the quarterbacks are progressing, the spring has shown some of the inconsistencies the world saw in the fall; after Milroe’s hot start throwing a 52-yard completion, he fizzled out and fell into a stream of three-and-outs, and his visible frustration seemed only to throw him off his game more.  


The offensive line was in dire need of a revamp after the team’s past season, where, for the first time in Saban’s tenure at the university, the team allowed five sacks in back-to-back games.  

It seems that with DeBoer’s new guidance and some fresh blood, the O-line is starting to take shape and carving out paths for the offense’s four touchdowns.  

“In my mind, we don’t care if they know what we’re doing,” McVay said. “We have to be so good to the point that we can scream our calls out. They know what’s coming, and they still can’t stop it just because of how good we are. We’re getting to that point to where communications keep. The more communicated we are, the better we are.” 

On the other side of the offense, Alabama has never lacked skill, and this spring proves no different. Jam Miller ran back for two touchdowns, the highest of the game, with his longest catch being 48 yards. Alongside him, other players like Justice Haynes and Richard Young contributed touchdowns to the offense. 

Although Alabama’s offensive talent hasn’t been a concern, many blame the offensive line for Alabama’s loss to Michigan in the College Football Playoff after it let Milroe be manhandled by the Wolverines, who sacked the quarterback five times.  

It seems the two sides of the offense have worked to meld together this spring, with DeBoer bringing in his knowledge from his time with one of the best offensive teams in the country.  


The team’s defense didn’t have the same success as the offense. Although some players, like defensive back Malachi Moore, suggested that the scoring rules were unfairly swayed in the offense’s favor, the defense was shaky at the line of scrimmage, allowing four straight unanswered touchdowns by the offense. The defense could also not force its opposing half into any turnovers, again losing out on points it needed for a steak dinner, the traditional prize for the A-Day winners.  

“We’re still mad at each other,” Moore said. “We’re trying to figure out what’s going on. We just had to go out there and do our job. Stop worrying about the outcome and stuff but stop trying to make superhero plays or whatnot. Just do your job. Everybody, all 11, do their job, and the result will come out in our favor.” 

Moore blamed the lack of togetherness on the loss of Saban, saying it was a “hard transition.” He said that the spring is too early to tell how well the team will be able to mesh but that the players who decided to remain loyal to Alabama had a sense of purpose. As they got to know one another more, he added, the defense would find its footing.  

The defense’s only points came from eight defensive three-and-outs and a missed field goal by the offense.  

“We’re just going to keep getting better and better,” Moore said. “The more reps we have at this new defense and this team, we’re going to master them.”

New guys on the field 

After Alabama lost so much of its starting roster to the draft or the portal, new blood had to pour in.  

Defensive backs Keon Saab and Domani Jackson are two transfers from Michigan and Southern California, respectively. According to Moore, the duo has blended in well with Alabama’s established defensive routine and will “be good for the defense” in both their experience and game knowledge.  

Another transfer who made waves in this game was Washington wide receiver Germie Bernard, who debuted in Bryant-Denny with a 52-yard catch at the 2-yard line from Milroe, resulting in the game’s first touchdown.  

“Germie is a competitor,” Milroe said. “He comes each and every day ready to go at the facility. He’s been a good leader in the room. He’s been special. … I’m proud to have him on the team, and I’m super excited.” 

Final remarks  

DeBoer made it clear over the spring that he wanted to maintain many of Alabama’s traditions that had begun with Saban. That is why the offense will celebrate the 34-28 win with a steak dinner, and the defense will be left with beans and weenies, which DeBoer laughingly called “beanies and weenies” at his final press conference before A- Day.  

DeBoer’s sentiments from the team’s first spring practice still seem to ring true as spring training closes; only now the results are coming into view.  

“It was a great day out there, as practices always are, full of energy, full of excitement,” DeBoer said after the first spring practice. “You know, this came fast, came on fast, and the practice went fast. Really, really clean. I was, you know, proud of our coaches and staff and as well as our players just for really understanding the things we were trying to accomplish today.” 

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