Eyabi Anoma flashes, other notes from Alabama’s first scrimmage


CW / Hannah Saad

James Ogletree, Staff Writer

Alabama football built on its seven spring practice sessions with a scrimmage inside Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Only the team’s warmups were open to the media, but here’s what we’ve heard from a source who was in attendance.

Quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones both had good days and did not turn the ball over. Tagovailoa’s day was highlighted by a long touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith. Taulia Tagovailoa got most of the third-team reps, but as coach Nick Saban said afterward, he also played a bit with the twos.

Early enrollee wide receiver John Metchie had a touchdown catch for the second team. He was spotted in the second line of receivers during warmups.

There wasn’t much room for the team’s running backs, but it was pointed out that the team often struggles to run the ball well in the spring as it experiments with different offensive line combinations. As expected, Alex Leatherwood and Jedrick Wills Jr. manned the left and right tackle spots and early enrollee Evan Neal got some reps at first-team guard. Najee Harris was the main running back and had a couple nice catches out of the backfield.

Miller Forristall led the way for the tight ends. He was in the first pair during warmups alongside Major Tennison, who was very limited in the scrimmage. Walk-on Giles Amos earned some first-team reps and caught a touchdown.

The first-team defensive line didn’t have any surprises: LaBryan Ray and Raekwon Davis played defensive end and Phidarian Mathis was mostly at nose tackle. Redshirt freshman Christian Barmore got some first-team reps at nose, too.

Sophomore outside linebacker Eyabi Anoma got “a ton” of reps, the source said, and despite a few mental errors is expected to be “a terror” off the edge and can have a Tim Williams-type impact this season (18.5 total sacks in 2015 and 2016).

Saban said afterward that the outside linebackers played pretty well, but the depth at inside linebacker was a different story.

“Those guys have ability. They make too many mental errors,” Saban said. “I mean if you make mental errors at linebacker, you either have a gap that’s unprotected [or] you have somebody that’s not covered. We had way too many of those today. And we just have to keep on working and keep on working with them and see where it takes us.”

The nickel defense featured Patrick Surtain II and Trevon Diggs outside, Shyheim Carter at Star, and Xavier McKinney and Jared Mayden at safety. No surprises there, but there were some in the team’s dime defense. Josh Jobe did play in dime, but it was mostly at Star or Money, not outside. He and Carter handled those two positions while Surtain and Diggs remained at cornerback and McKinney and Mayden at safety.

In a few blitz formations, McKinney played next to linebacker Dylan Moses while Daniel Wright came in to take his spot next to Mayden.

Joseph Bulovas and Mike Bernier, the starting kicker and punter by the end of last season, both had rough days. Skyler DeLong had a few nice punts and early enrollee Will Reichard, the nation’s top-ranked kicker in this recruiting class, made a long field goal and a short one but also missed a short one.

Alabama returns to practice on Monday at 3:30 p.m. CT. It will scrimmage once more on Saturday, April 6, in advance of the Golden Flake A-Day Game on April 13 at 1 p.m.