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Alabama Unveils New, Fast Tailback And The QB Of The Future, But O-Line Needs Work

The wet conditions at Bryant-Denny Stadium could not slow down new Alabama tailback Jahmyr Gibbs, a transfer from Georgia Tech, at the A-Day spring game on Saturday.

Gibbs, a 5-foot-11 junior, was named the offensive MVP after gaining 100 yards on nine carries with a 75-yard touchdown for the first team offense on the Crimson team in a 25-7 loss to the White in front of 31,077.

“Does it stand out to you? Fast is fast, right? The guy getting to top speed is obvious,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “He gives us something at the running back position because he’s really good at pressing the holes. He has a great burst to get to top speed quickly in setting up blocks.”

And Alabama needs a back. It lost senior Brian Robinson Jr. after last season, and juniors Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams are both nursing knee injuries.

Gibbs gained 746 yards on 143 carries and caught 35 passes for 465 yards last season at Georgia Tech.

“Very good running back, very good receiver, very good third-down back,” Saban said. “Very good addition.”

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Returning Heisman Trophy winning junior quarterback Bryce Young completed 14 of 29 passes for 153 yards with an interception for the Crimson.

But Saban was more interested at this point in the development of backup quarterback Jalen Milroe, a redshirt freshman from Katy, Texas. Milroe completed 11 of 23 passes for 149 yards for the second team offense on the White team with a 52-yard touchdown to wide receiver Christian Leary. He also rushed eight times for 58 yards, excluding two sacks for -26 yards.

“Obviously, Jalen can make plays running the ball, and he made some today,” he said. “But he also made some good throws. We made him run the offense, try to become a better passer, try to have a better pocket presence, a better reader of coverages, and I think he made progress in those areas.”

Milroe completed 3 of 7 passes for 41 yards and rushed 15 times for 57 yards last season in four games and was red-shirted.

Leary, who caught just two passes as a freshman last season, caught five Saturday for 106 yards.

Saban, though, left worried about his offensive line as the victorious White team with the first team defense recorded 10 sacks, and the Crimson team put up another five. Edge linebacker Dallas Turner had three sacks for the White team, while linebackers Will Anderson Jr. and Chris Braswell and defensive lineman Jamil Burroughs had two apiece.

Linebacker Jaylen Moody added a sack for the White team and a game-high nine tackles.

Defensive linemen Jaheim Oatis, Tim Keenan III and Jah-Marien Latham each had a sack for the Crimson team as did linebackers Demouy Kennedy and Jeremiah Alexander.

“Probably one thing that impacted the game as much as anything was the front seven on defense,” Saban said. “It was probably a little further ahead than the offensive line. With two starters out and one starter back from last year, we have a lot of inexperienced players playing positions against some guys that are pretty good players that are pretty good rushers.”

Gone from the 2021 offensive line are left tackle Evan Neal, who is expected to be a high first round pick in the NFL Draft on April 28, and starting left tackle Chris Owens.

“We’ll certainly try to improve that,” Saban said. “I think we have. We’ll do it in recruiting, and we’re doing it every way that we can.”

Highly touted cornerback transfer Eli Ricks, formerly of LSU, played on the second team defense on the Crimson team and made five tackles. Kool-Aid McKinstry and Khyree Jackson were the first team cornerbacks for the White team. Jackson had two pass breakups, while McKinstry had one.

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“The biggest thing for Eli is learning the system,” Saban said. “And sometimes it’s even more difficult for guys that played in a system.”

Ricks, a junior who was the No. 1 cornerback in the nation by Rivals.com in the 2019-20 recruiting year out of Mater Dei High in the Los Angeles area, is on his third system in three years. He played on two of the worst defenses in the SEC in 2020 and ’21 under LSU defensive coordinators Bo Pelini and Daronte Jones the previous two years.

“So he knew a system, now he’s got to sort of enturbulate some of the things that they did to some of the things that we’re doing, and we call it something different,” Saban said. “So you’ve got to work through sort of some of that learning curve. But he’s a very conscientious guy and works hard at it, takes coaching well, wants to please. And Khyree is showing a lot more maturity in his consistency in performance and playing with a little better technique and understanding what he has to do to be successful at his position. And Kool-Aid had a pretty good spring, as well.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau has been on the LSU beat since 1998 with multiple outlets in Louisiana, prior to that he had covered both Auburn and Alabama. He won first place for his game feature on LSU's upset at Florida last season from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He was also named Beat Writer of Year, by Louisiana Sports Writers Association in July; placed in three Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) categories – Beat Writer, Explanatory, Game Coverage – last spring. Guilbeau was also the FWAA first-place winner for columns in 2017 and was also the top overall winner in 2016 FWAA placing first for his game story, second in columns, and receiving honorable mention for features.

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