Alabama defense dominates offense in annual spring game
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Blake Sims' bid to replace AJ McCarron as Alabama's starting quarterback hit a snag Saturday afternoon when the Crimson Tide defense dominated the annual A-Day game at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Playing with the offensive starters on the Crimson Team, Sims completed 13 of 30 passes for 178 yards in a 17-14 loss to the White Team. Sims had a late touchdown and two interceptions.
"Nobody ever has a bad spring game, let's start with that," coach Nick Saban said.
"Everybody needs to understand that in games like today we really limit what we do on offense, we really limit what we do on defense, and we really don't try to feature players. That may be a little bit of a disadvantage to our players. Blake Sims did some things at quarterback that we really don't feature."
Sims passed to sophomore wide receiver Chris Black for a last-minute 55-yard touchdown, but he also had an interception returned for a touchdown by defensive lineman D.J. Pettway early in the third quarter.
Sims' longest possession was just five plays, while redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman led drives of 14, 10 and eight plays for the White Team. Neither side was able to score in the first half when both teams had 116 total yards.
"I think he was pressuring a little bit," Black said about Sims. "Throughout the spring he's done a pretty good job of blocking all that stuff out, other people's expectations out. Today was not one of our best days."
Sims' uneven performance came with Jacob Coker looking on. Coker is transferring to Alabama after graduating from Florida State next month. He backed up Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston this past season.
During the first two spring scrimmages, which were closed to reporters, Blake completed 40 of 62 passes for 455 yards and five touchdowns, but Alabama didn't release any interception numbers. On Saturday, Sims connected on just one of his first six attempts.
Meanwhile, Alabama's defense had 19 tackles for a loss, seven sacks and four interceptions in front of a crowd of 73,506.
"They're for real," senior linebacker Trey DePriest said about the defensive line.
The Crimson Team's first offensive touchdown was set up by a turnover. Defensive end Tim Williams recovered Kenyan Drake's fumble, leading to T.J. Yeldon's 1-yard touchdown run.
Alabama's kicking woes continued as sophomore Adam Griffith missed a 30-yard field goal and had a 47-yard attempt blocked by defensive lineman Jonathan Allen.
He later made a 41-yard attempt for the White Team at the end of the third quarter, and Bateman tossed a 32-yard touchdown pass to ArDarius Stewart in the fourth.
With 95 yards on 11 carries, Yeldon became the first player in Crimson Tide history to win the Dixie Howell Memorial player as A-Day MVP for a third time. Pettway and Allen shared the Dwight Stephenson Lineman of the Game Award.
Although the announced attendance is the largest in college football so far this spring, it was Alabama's lowest since Saban arrived in 2007. The previous low was 78,200 in 2008.