At most A-Day games, especially those overseen by Nick Saban, it isn’t so much what you see as what you don’t see. There aren’t a lot of complicated blitzes. There aren’t a bunch of funky offensive sets. There isn’t much more to be seen other than a basic overview of the depth chart, on-the-hoof estimations of successful (or not-so-successful) strength-and-conditioning efforts, and maybe a few tendencies sneak through in years – like this one – where Alabama is replacing an offensive coordinator.
Alabama has multiple dichotomies in play. There is the quarterback battle between Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts, a contrast of styles between a quarterback ideally suited for a pro spread passing game and one suited for a spread-option style attack. There is new offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, whose background promises more success the more misdirection and spread elements are inplay, but then there’s new QB coach Dan Enos, who made his bones largely on the back of more traditional sets with play-action and a quarterback under center.
The Bulldogs probably signed the best recruiting class, top to bottom, in modern college football history, eclipsing the class Alabama brought together a year earlier.
A year after signing what was at the time, the best class in Alabama history on paper – a heralding that backed itself up on the field once the fall came – Alabama couldn’t repeat its past glories, and ended up signing the lowest-ranked class since Nick Saban’s first class at Alabama in 2007.