A nice start to Young’s spring game, and a nice start to his tenure as Alabama’s starting quarterback.
Spring game debuts aren’t the best predictor for the type of career a player will have – Mac Jones struggled in his first A-Day – but that won’t stop us from seeing Young’s performance Saturday as a sign that Alabama’s offense is in good hands.
The sophomore quarterback passed his first test. He didn’t ace it.
Young nearly threw an interception when he forced a pass into the flat. Edge pressure from Chris Braswell forced Young into a fumble that Jaylen Moody recovered for a defensive touchdown.
But a few miscues aside, Alabama’s heir apparent at quarterback looked just fine.
Young completed 25 of 44 passes for 333 yards and a touchdown.
More importantly, he looked confident, composed and in command of the offense.
Of course, the stadium wasn’t full, the game didn’t count, and Young was facing his teammates, not the Georgia Bulldogs. But there’s still pressure that comes with playing in your first spring game knowing your task is replacing a quarterback who broke Alabama’s single-season passing record.
Young looks ready for the challenge.
Young even earned some praise from his coach, with Nick Saban saying during a halftime interview on ESPN that he was “very pleased” with Young’s first half.
“I think he’s done a really good job all spring,” Saban said after the game. “We continue to work on him kind of having a presence out there that affects other people in a positive way, and I think he’s starting to get more and more respect from the other players by the way he plays.”
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Stars of Alabama’s 2020 national championship team like Jones and DeVonta Smith were A-Day spectators, a visible reminder of what Alabama must replace.
But Saturday should ease concerns that Alabama’s offense would falter in the aftermath of all that roster turnover.
The running back room no longer features Najee Harris, but the Tide remain well stocked at the position.
Traeshon Holden, Slade Bolden and Jahleel Billingsly piled up receptions. That receiving corps is improved by John Metchie, who was among several players who didn’t play Saturday.
Early enrollee Agiye Hall flashed the ability that made him one of the nation’s top-rated wide receiver recruits in the 2021 signing class.
Tight end Cameron Latu supplied one of the day’s highlights when he caught a 59-yard touchdown from Young.
Young faced down a pass rush, moved up in the pocket and found Latu downfield without a defender in his vicinity.
Questions linger that cannot be answered in April.
Young is perhaps generously listed at 6-feet tall. Will that affect his ability to find passing lanes, especially when facing pressure in the pocket? It didn’t seem to be a problem on that touchdown pass to Latu.
Will Bill O’Brien prove to be as good of an offensive play caller as Steve Sarkisian was?
Alabama looked just fine Saturday, but is just fine enough to hold off Georgia?
A-Day isn’t the chance to get answers to those questions. But it was a chance to peek at Alabama’s future at quarterback. The Tide appear to be in good hands.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: Alabama football: QB Bryce Young passes first test in spring game