How do the teams projected to win the East and the West stack up in the spring? Comparing Alabama and Georgia

Published 4:45 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2017

By John Simpson and Powell Cobb

Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, will be teeming with football fans looking for their fix on Saturday. While the scrimmage will likely be a typical Saban-run machine, there are going to be uncertainties on the field.

This year Alabama does not face the same problems as it has for the past handful of years heading into the A-Day game. They know who will be under center this season.

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Jalen Hurts will be a year more experienced than he was at this point last year, when he arguably won the starting job. Not only that, but he will be a year more trained under Saban and will have spent time with his new offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll.

Although Hurts isn’t the question mark this season, the new coordinator is. There is something so quintessentially Alabama about finally getting a returning quarterback, but then throw in a new coach to make the fan base a little uncertain about the whole thing.

While Hurts has the job, it will be interesting to see the highly touted QB recruits Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones tossing it around on the second team.

Another comforting thing is that all of Alabama’s leading rushers from last year are coming back. Yet, in typical Alabama fashion, they’ve all been banged up this spring.

Bo Scarborough has been non-contact all spring, Damien Harris is out with a sprained foot, and B.J. Emmons has also been non-contact.

I fully expect to see them taking snaps on Saturday, but I expect them to be in black no-hit jerseys.

I also fully expect to see the nations top running back recruit Najee Harris on the field a hefty amount.

If Harris is as good as he’s talked up to be, and I fully believe that he is, then he may very well earn his spot in the rotation on Saturday.

One thing that cannot be understated is how precautionary the no-contact jerseys are for Alabama’s returning RBs. Don’t take this column and think, “man, Alabama’s running backs are all hurt they’re going to be weak there.”

They’ll be ready to roll come September.

Also look for the next initiate into the fraternity of stud receivers from South Florida on Alabama’s side. Early enrollee Jerry Jeudy has built up a lot of hype, and I expect to see him pulling some passed out of the air on Saturday.

While the fans are the real winners, the players on the Crimson and White teams will be playing knowing that if they win they earn a steak dinner. If they lose, they have to eat their beans while they watch the winning side eat steak.

G-Day last year was historic.

Fans were packed in Sanford Stadium like sardines in a tin can to watch new coach Kirby Smart helm his Bulldogs team in their spring practice game. Everyone was hoping to get a glimpse of freshman quarterback Jacob Eason and his gun-slinging arm. The hype vibes were felt all the way down here in Bainbridge.

It was a big moment for the program, a sign of new hope for a team that had seemed to grow stale the past couple seasons.

It’s that time again.

Saturday will be Kirby’s and Eason’s second G-Day spring practice, and there will be other shiny new toys sure to entertain all who’s there.

But that’s the question.

Who will be there?

More than 93,000 crammed into the stadium last spring, with standing room only. People were being turned away at the gate.

Can the Dawgs replicate that again?

My heart tells me yes, and my head tells me maybe. Georgia had a good season in 2016. Yes, I’m calling 8-5 good on account of it being Kirby’s first year, a true-freshman quarterback driving the offense, new coordinators with new systems and a lingering aftertaste of the previous administration’s lethargic culture and satisfaction with being mediocre.

Even with the hiccups, it’s obvious the Bulldogs are trending up—sharply. A No. 3 recruiting class and enough returning starters to train with the new young studs is a plus.

Kirby’s constant demand for better performances from his players is refreshing. The way he’s training these young minds to push themselves to always improve will work wonders when they find themselves more resilient, better prepared and smarter than their opponents.

Like memorizing an entire textbook before taking a test on one chapter, always go above and beyond what is expected of you.

It’s going to be a great spring game regardless of the fan turnout.

Dawg Nation should be pleased with the way the players look, especially with Eason.