Butch Dill/Associated Press
The Crimson team defeated the White team 24-12 on Saturday in the Alabama Crimson Tide spring game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Junior quarterback Jalen Hurts had a chance to make his case for a starting job in the A-Day game with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa out due to a hand injury, but he struggled to the tune of 19-of-37 passing for 195 yards, no touchdowns and one interception to go along with 33 rushing yards for the White team.
Redshirt freshman Mac Jones quarterbacked the Crimson team and turned some heads by going 23-of-35 for 289 yards with two touchdowns and one interception to potentially put himself in the starting conversation.
Although little was on the line, there was a big crowd on hand to get an early look at the 2018 Alabama football team, as seen in this photo courtesy of Alex Byington from the Decatur Daily:
Alex Byington @abyingtonTD
Not a bad crowd today for #Alabama's A-Day spring game, probably not 100K worth, but still a good showing. https://t.co/eIZV8F0WWM
Alabama Football announced that 74,732 fans were in attendance, which was the ninth-largest figure in the history of the A-Day game.
The Crimson Tide faithful saw Jones get the Crimson offense off to a fast start with a touchdown on their second drive.
Shortly after a 30-yard completion from Jones to tight end Kedrick James, running back Brian Robinson punched the ball into the end zone from one yard out.
Crimson extended its lead early in the second quarter when Jones and wide receiver Chadarius Townsend connected on the biggest play of the game.
As seen in the following GIF courtesy of SEC Network, Jones hit Townsend in stride, and he broke a tackle before racing 65 yards to the end zone:
SEC Network @SECNetwork
63 YARDS TO THE HOUSE. @AlabamaFTBL's Chadarius Townsend. 🔥 https://t.co/y0l0i3j9mi https://t.co/Dr3l3Uj8Uu
The touchdown was made even more impressive by the fact that the Crimson team was facing the No. 1 defense in the form of the White team.
Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports praised Jones for the poise he showed against Alabama’s starting unit:
Barrett Sallee @BarrettSallee
Jones to Townsend for the TD. Mac Jones stands tall in the pocket, has a calm presence and finds his guys.
Shortly after the 65-yard touchdown, Hurts made one of his best plays on a 26-yard scramble.
Head coach Nick Saban clearly wanted more out of Hurts from a passing perspective, however, based on the comments he made after that run.
Sallee tweeted audio featuring an ESPN mic picking up Saban criticizing Hurts’ lack of success through the air:
Barrett Sallee @BarrettSallee
Here’s Saban talking about his QBs with what appears to be a hot mic. “The third-team quarterback can move the team right down the field throwing the ball.” https://t.co/IhPp3cAKwl
Crimson came away with a field goal on that drive, and it entered halftime down 14-6 after another make by kicker Joseph Bulovas on the heels of Jones getting intercepted by Jared Mayden.
Bulovas acquitted himself well in the game and was among the few obvious standouts, making five of his seven attempts.
Two more Bulovas field goals in the second half allowed White to cut the deficit to 14-12, but Hurts never managed to get any closer.
Bulovas nailed a 48-yard field goal for Crimson with 1:15 left in the game to make it 17-12, but Hurts turned the ball over on downs on the White team’s subsequent drive.
Rather than running the clock out, Crimson added to its lead and put the game away when Jones hit wide receiver Xavian Marks for a 46-yard touchdown with 33 seconds remaining.
While Hurts has just two losses as a starter at Alabama and won both SEC Offensive Player of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year honors in 2016, he struggled at times last season and gave way to Tagovailoa in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
Tagovailoa established himself as the favorite to start in 2018 after leading the Tide to a come-from-behind win in the title game, and based on Hurts’ inability to find a rhythm Saturday, the sophomore still appears to be in the driver’s seat.