What we learned from Alabama football’s 2023 open fall practice

Published Aug. 05, 2023, 4:39 p.m.
By Nick Alvarez |
Bryant-Denny Stadium opened up for the first time this fall with a pristine playing surface ready for Alabam football’s Fan Day.
The Crimson Tide took the field surrounded by a sparse crowd on Saturday afternoon. After the event, subscribers to the Tide’s NIL-arm Yea Alabama were able to get autographs on the field.
It should be noted that these are takeaways from UA’s third practice and the team wasn’t in full pads. But considering this is the last time the media or public will see the 2023 Tide before the opener on Sept. 2, here’s what we learned:
QBs split reps
The three primary contenders for Alabama’s starting quarterback job expectedly split reps, as head coach Nick Saban forecasted earlier this week. Ty Simpson showcased his arm strength on a couple of impressive throws and ran the option for a long touchdown. Jalen Milroe demonstrated some precision on a deep route or two. Tyler Buchner also seemed to move well in the pocket.
It was hard to evaluate the throwers during the team’s 11-on-11 scrimmage as the Tide defensive front was able to generate pressure, particularly from Deontae Lawson and Chris Braswell. But if one had to award a winner, Simpson’s deep pass Isaiah Bond was likely the highlight.
No single performance was going to make Saban grab the microphone and crown a starter. The cake isn’t ready yet. Still, a performance on the field in nearly 100-degree weather should help it bake.
Offensive line pairings emerge
There’s certainty on the right side of Alabama’s offensive line with returners JC Latham at tackle and Tyler Booker at guard. Seth McLaughlin also earned a majority of the first-team reps at center. On the left side of the line, however, Alabama had new faces with Elijah Pritchett and Terrence Ferguson II.
During the individual position session, Pritchett, a redshirt freshman, went down with an apparent ankle injury. He eventually went to the locker room under his own power, leading to five-star freshman Kadyn Proctor working with the first- and second-team units at left tackle.
For the quarterbacks-center pairings, Milroe was with McLaughlin, Simpson with Darrian Dalcourt and Buchner with Ferguson. Dalcourt also got reps at left guard.
New faces debut in secondary
A carryover from the spring, freshman Caleb Downs continued to play safety with the first team. Elsewhere, Terrion Arnold and Kool-Aid McKinstry were at cornerback. Malachi Moore was at safety. The surprise, though, was junior DeVonta Smith playing alongside Downs in the secondary for a portion of practice.
Smith, a junior, has played in 16 games, mostly on special teams in his career, totaling two tackles. UAB transfer Jaylen Key and Lannett senior Kristian Story also had reps with Earl Little Jr. continuing his development at star.
Defensive line ready to ‘bring the energy’ in 2023
Injury updates
Alabama freshman offensive lineman Miles McVay appeared to be the only player on the field that did not participate in practice. He had a brace on his right leg and walked around with the help of a crutch. McVay, a 6-foot-6, 350-pound three-star, rode a stationary bike as the team warmed up and sat for the majority of the day.
Sophomore running back Jam Miller wore a black non-contact jersey after being out on Thursday with a strained quad. Saban said he expected Miller to be out for a few days. Other than the two underclassmen and the five quarterbacks, every other player had a traditional white- or red-practice jersey on.
Freshman defensive lineman Edric Hill was helped to the locker room after struggling with the heat. As aforementioned, Pritchett also went to the locker room during the 11-on-11 period and didn’t appear to return.

Latest Player Notes

How Wisconsin athletes are benefiting from a unique NIL deal with Madison's Exact Sciences

Feb 17, 2024MJ Hammill entered what can be a scary time of an athlete’s life in mid-December.She went into the volleyball ...

Mike Griffith: Texas is Georgia's primary focus this offseason

February 16, 2024The Georgia Bulldogs face three SEC contenders on the road next season in Alabama, Texas and Ole Miss. According ...

Navigating a season that could see Texas play Georgia more than once

February 17, 2024The Texas Longhorns and Georgia Bulldogs will play in Austin on Oct. 19. It may not be the only time they ...

After some key departures from the team, Dykes got busy in the portal this offseason.

5:11 PM on Feb 16, 2024Biggest unanswered question: Who will emerge as the clear WR1?Before last season, Williams was the ...

How Louisville football coach Jeff Brohm balances transfer portal, high school recruiting

Louisville Courier JournalCollege football used to buzz on the first Wednesday in February, but Louisville football's office ...

Bob Asmussen | Illinois defense counting on linebackers to plug the gaps

College Football Reporter/ColumnistCHAMPAIGN — A new linebacker coach is in place at Illinois, and Archie McDaniel said he ...

Where Alabama’s quarterback group stands before spring practice

Alabama football’s offense is going to look different this season. Kalen DeBoer has replaced the retired Nick Saban as head ...

Why did AJ McCarron return to the St. Louis Battlehawks?

When AJ McCarron joined the resurrected XFL last year, the former Alabama All-American hadn’t played since suffering a knee ...

Colorado football self-reported 11 minor NCAA violations from Deion Sanders’ first year with Buffs

1/26/2024The Colorado football program has self-reported 11 minor NCAA violations since the hiring of head coach Deion Sanders ...

What Steve Young said about today’s NFL quarterbacks

By Jackson Payne Steve Young may have enjoyed a Hall of Fame career in the NFL, but that doesn’t stop him from feeling just ...
See More Player Notes