What to take away from this past weekend’s spring games

Published 3:55 pm Tuesday, April 25, 2017

By John Simpson and Powell Cobb

What am I taking away from G-Day?

Jake Fromm is a very, very solid backup for Jacob Eason.

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Fromm is an early enrollee and has been gung-ho from day one on campus. He was reportedly coordinating throwing practice with receivers, vocal during spring practice and is apparently pushing Eason in ways he hasn’t been pushed yet as a Bulldog.

What will make you play better? A hungry and talented second stringers nipping at your heels every day.

Yes, Fromm looked sharp during the glorified scrimmage in Sanford Stadium last Saturday. The 66,000 fans in the stands (not quite 93,000 like last year, but still a great turnout) got to see the shiny new Dawg toy work his magic under center.

Despite all the buzz about the Houston County graduate, we have to remember: he was playing against second string defenders. Not that they aren’t talented, but those players are quite a drop off from the first string defense.

Eason showed out well. It was a little bit of a slow start, but the rising sophomore sunk into a flow by the time the second quarter rolled around. Small things like the touch on his throw were slightly shaky, but that can be chalked up to a problem at the offensive line. With a few injuries and a couple players yet to show up on campus, I expect the offensive line to be substantially better than last season.

Better pass protection for Eason will result in sharper throws, I guarantee it. The kid is massively talented, and just needs help around him to let it shine.

The first string defense was impressive, I think, which is another reason Eason looked so shaky at first.

I am confident the defense will be the most impressive part about this Georgia team in 2017.

The Bulldogs open 2017 against Appalachian State at home. College football fans know this team is tough, and will play Georgia hard. If the Kirby, Eason and Co. can handle their business against them, then the next Saturday will be the biggest game of Kirby’s tenure yet: a primetime NBC matchup against Notre Dame in Southbend.

I have a feeling Touchdown Jesus will be witnessing Eason’s coming out party. September can’t come soon enough.

This past weekend’s tease of college football was a nice little scratch to ease the itch. With the regular season looming months away, fans across the South enter into the time of speculation, where average fans develop opinions that come from the reasonable, all the way to out of left field.

Alabama left a lot to be desired in their spring game. In last Wednesday’s column about spring games, I predicted there would be a lot of freshman show outs at A-Day and I was delighted to see that prediction came through.

The A-Day game told me three things as I watched it.

First, although the running game wasn’t in the spotlight, Joshua Jacobs looks sharp despite being one of the less ran players last year. Najee Harris also speaks for himself. Second, the defensive line and linebacker corps are just as athletic as last year, however they lack a field general like Reuben Foster or Jonathan Allen. Third, Alabama will throw over the top of you this year.

Jalen Hurts ability, mainly his inability, last season is the sole reason I believe Alabama lost the championship. This season, that seems to have changed. While early enrollee Tua Tagovailoa put on a passing spectacle, Jalen was not to be outdone.

In the second quarter, Hurts launched a 50-yard bomb to Robert Foster that hit the receiver perfectly in stride and gave Alabama fans glimpse of a deep-threat option that they were longing for last season. A couple of drives later he placed a fade perfectly over the shoulder of Calvin Ridley from about 30-yards out that was as accurate as any throw I’ve seen out of the SEC this past season.

Also, remember the name Terrell Hall. The sophomore edge rusher shoed off every inch of his 6’5 frame when he snatched one of Tua’s passes right out of the air from the defensive end position, and then hauled his 250-pound self 60-yards for a pick-six.

Hall is stepping into a position left open by Tim Williams, one of the best edge rushers in the game of football last season, but his athleticism is there.

His height gives him an advantage that Williams never had, he can terrorize QBs and swat their passes way above the range of a more normal sized player could.

Overall, Alabama looked sharp.

Both quarterbacks surpassed 300 yards in the air, multiple receivers had over 100 yards, and the first and second team defenses both had interceptions.

When you factor in the room for improvement and the fact that some of these players haven’t even reached their potential Alabama can seem downright scary.

Adding to that, Jalen Hurts, the SEC offensive player of the nation last year, has a picture of Clemson hoisting the national championship trophy as the background on his phone.

I don’t think I need to spell out what their mission is this season.

The looming question that will be debated over the coming months is going to be how long can Alabama’s running backs stay healthy. Three sat out of the spring game, but two of those were because of minor injuries that were deemed unsensable to risk re-injury, and one was listed as could return. The freshman and sophomore that took snaps in the spring game looked good though.