And by “myriad” we mean “thiiis close to double digits” in the two-time defending BCS champion Alabama’s annual A-Day game.
Just over 78,000 fans Saturday — there were a school-record 87,000 in attendance for Auburn’s spring game, for what it’s worth — witnessed the Tide turn the ball over a whopping nine times as the White team edged the Crimson team 17-14. The White squad, which consisted of the first-team offense, was responsible for four of the turnovers — two interceptions, two fumbles — while Team Crimson coughed it up five times — four interceptions, one fumble.
AJ McCarron, who will be entering his third year as the Tide’s starter, tossed both of the White team’s interceptions in his 19-for-30, 223-yard effort, and had a third pick called back because of defensive offsides. He also led his side on the game-winning drive, with a 50-yard bomb to Christion Jones setting up T.J. Yeldon‘s seven-yard touchdown run late in the game.
Yeldon, incidentally, was named the Dixie Howell Award winner (game’s most valuable player) after combining for 129 yards of offense — 69 rushing, 60 receiving. The rising sophomore led all players in both categories. It’s also the second straight year the back has staked his claim as the spring game MVP.
McCarron’s backup, Blake Sims, also tossed two interceptions, as did early enrollee and fellow Team Crimson teammate Cooper Bateman.
Suffice to say, the offensive effort — both literally and figuratively — did not sit well with the detail-oriented Nick Saban.
“The biggest thing I was concerned about was how the team would go out there and what would be their energy, their enthusiasm, and their attention to detail,” the head coach said in quotes distributed by the team. “I don’t think that there were enough guys that answered that question in a positive way to my liking. But I’m never satisfied.”
That said, Saban made sure that everyone listening knows he’s not disappointed with his squad at this point in the offseason. Rather, he’s merely not satisfied with where they are right now — a trait that even the head coach himself readily acknowledges is an annual occurrence.
“I spoke to a bunch of alumni groups today, and they all want me to make a comparison between this year’s team and last year’s team and the team before that, and the team before that, and the team before that,” Saban said. “And I wasn’t happy with any of those teams at this point. If I was happy with them, we wouldn’t have summer conditioning, we would not have fall camp, and we wouldn’t have thirty practices to get ready for our first game against Virginia Tech. We’d just pack it in and say, ‘Alright, let’s go to Atlanta and play the game.’
“We’re not there yet. That’s why we have all these practices, that’s why we have all the work we need to do.
McCarron, though, pretty much summed up quite well most everyone’s feelings on a game that’s nothing more than a glorified scrimmage.
“This is like playing in an all-star game. You don’t get in a rhythm. It’s not a real game, but it’s fun to go out there and try to make plays happen, and do some trick plays,” the senior said.
The attendance total of 78,315 was the sixth-largest in the storied program’s history, with the five highest coming in the first five years of Saban’s run in Tuscaloosa. The largest crowd ever to witness an A-Day game was 92,310 in 2011.
As the school wrote in its press release, “[m]ore than 592,000 fans have attended the seven A-Day games during Saban’s tenure as head coach, including 90,000 plus in three of the seven years.”