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Watching Alabama State Progress
Five things to watch for in Alabama State’s second spring football scrimmage Saturday. Here’s a few things to watch out for.
1. Offensive line cohesion: Alabama State’s defense might be beastly this coming fall under new coordinator Kevin Ramsey, who once guided the Football Championship Subdivision’s top-ranked defense in back-to-back seasons while at Texas Southern. But coach Reggie Barlow wasn’t wholly pleased with the play of his team’s offensive line during the first scrimmage this past Saturday. They gave up 12 sacks and rushed for three yards on 46 carries.
Barlow expressed his concern for the second-team offensive line’s ability to snap the ball which stagnated the offense on several occasions during the latter half of the scrimmage. With many positions not pinned down yet, it should be interesting to see how much growth chemistry the group has built over the past week.
2. Arsenio Favor in the pocket: With a couple years in the system and a display of precision passing early in the spring, rising junior Daniel Duhart is in the driver’s seat for the starting gig at quarterback. Duhart, who earned SWAC Offensive Player of the Week, while filling in for former standout Greg Jenkins in a win at Prairie View last season, went 11-15 for 190 yards and a touchdown in the first scrimmage. As impressive as Duhart’s arm looked, Southern Miss. transfer Arsenio Favor was showed equal promise as a scrambler. Despite wearing a red-no contact jersey, as did all the quarterbacks, Favor looked like a potential threat in the ground game, accelerating beyond the line of scrimmage on several occasions before the play was blown dead. However, he only went 3-for-9 passing the ball but showed the confidence you’d expect from a guy who’s been a starter at the D-1 level.
3. Isaiah Crowell’s touches: The former SEC Freshman of the Year and reigning SWAC Newcomer of the Year’s productivity is proven. He rushed for 842 yards and a league-best 15 touchdowns as a sophomore. He didn’t get much work last Saturday, carrying the ball only five times for 14 yards while other ball carriers, including Malcolm Cyrus and Andre Kincey got action. There might not be a need to push the Georgia transfer too hard with the Black and Gold spring game looming on April 27th. But who wouldn’t want to see him tote it 10 times?
4. Discipline on defense: The offense gassed the defense for several big plays early, including touchdown plays of 60, 76 and 37 yards. Among the scoring players were a reverse and a wide receiver screen on which Demario Bell broke a tackle and reversed his field on his way to pay dirt. Seeing the defense’s improvement, especially on third down and contain, would show the unit is making strides.
5. Wide receiver vs. defensive back matchups: These 1-on-1 battles are always interesting. The Hornets lost all-conference safety Kejuan Riley and standout cornerback Saeed Lee. How their current group of defensive backs matchup against the likes of Marcus Gamble and speedy Arkansas State transfer Earl Lucas could show coaches a lot this spring.
By Nick Birdsong, The Birmingham News