From the Sideline – How A-Day has Changed During Saban’s 10 Years
There's not a ton to learn from an A-day scrimmage. There is, however, a lot to learn about A-Day weekend.
The scrimmage itself is very vanilla and orchestrated. Not much to see in the kicking game, that we didn't already know. JK Scott has a strong leg. Adam Griffith will struggle at times, but still has the ability to be a major threat for the Tide. Hard to get any type of read on the return game, given that the approach in those situations mirror a flag football game.
On offense, we know that there's work to do to earn a starting QB role. There's depth that needs to be found at running back. The best five on the offensive line still need to be identified. And there are a bunch of incredibly talented receivers - whether you're talking about the wideouts, or from the tight end position.
It's hard to get much done against the Alabama defense - even with so many weapons gone from a season ago. More than one person on the sidelines was heard to say, in some variation, "If you want to find out anything about Alabama's offense, you better get Tim Williams off the field." He's that good, and that disruptive.
While the strengths may be different, collectively Nick Saban's defense will again be among the nation's best.
That's the football part of A-Day, as it relates to the 2016 season. As far as A-Day weekend, as a whole, here are some observations:
Bama Fans aren't disinterested in A-Day, they just understand that the game itself won't reveal much. In the early years of Saban's tenure, there was mystery and intrigue about what his Tide teams would look like. That mystery is gone. While each season is different, as well as many of the players, the overall "look" won't change a great deal as long as he's in charge.
In addition to that, you can watch A-Day live on ESPN. Ten years ago, I did the play-by-play for A-Day on CSS, which was only available to Comcast or Charter subscribers in the Southeast. If you wanted to see Nick Saban's first couple of teams in the spring, you probably needed to be at Bryant-Denny.
In terms of recent football alums, this is almost becoming their homecoming weekend. It's impossible to get all the NFL guys back on the same weekend during the regular season, so this gives them a chance to come together before they get cranked up for another year.
I think the future of A-Day will be more and more heavily tied to other events that take place over the course of the weekend, as much as (or perhaps even more so) the game itself.