More than just steak to gain from Tide’s A-Day
by Mark Edwards
medwards@annistonstar.com
Apr 19, 2013 | 3675 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TUSCALOOSA — Alabama safety HaHa Clinton-Dix likes his steak well done, and he plans on having one after today’s A-Day Game.

The winning team gets a steak, while the losers get beans and hot dogs. The players say Tide coach Nick Saban makes sure nobody from the losing team somehow manages to sneak into the steak line.

“I don’t want no beanies and weenies,” Clinton-Dix said with a grin.

But there actually are stakes in today’s spring game, which will be at 2 p.m. at Bryant-Denny Stadium on ESPN2. Even though today is mostly a glorified exhibition, Tide head coach Nick Saban said he still can gain something out of it by seeing how the players handle the game, which will have two teams on two sidelines, officials calling the plays, fans in the stands, and the scoreboard in use.

“Some guys always play a little better when the lights go on,” Saban said. “Some guys don’t play as well for whatever reasons. It’s kind of interesting because really a scrimmage is not a spring game. When you put a crowd in the stadium and you put all the coaches on the sidelines, it’s more game-like even though you’re playing against each other.

“I think you have a much better chance to evaluate that with the players. See who is ready to give the kind of effort, play with the kind of toughness, be responsible to do their job, be able to bounce back if they have a good play, bounce back if they have a bad play. It’s interesting to see how guys manage the competitive circumstance you put them in.”

The White team will have the first-team offense, which includes quarterback AJ McCarron, and the second-team defense — even though Saban swears there is no depth chart. The Crimson squad will have the No. 2 offense and No. 1 defense.

That will allow the two first teams to face off, and the two second-strings to do the same.

The game will have four 15-minute quarters with a running clock. The clock will be stopped after scoring plays, penalties and changes of possession. Regular clock rules will be used during the final four minutes of each half.

Halftime will be 12 minutes long and include a quarterback skills competition. The competitors will be former Alabama quarterbacks Brodie Croyle, Alan Gray, Scott Hunter, Gary Rutledge, Steadman Shealy, Richard Todd, John Parker Wilson and Andrew Zow.

Players in black jerseys, which include the quarterbacks and injured players such as running back Dee Hart and linebacker C.J. Mosley, are off-limits to contact. When they’re touched or touch the ball carrier, the play is over.

This is Saban’s seventh spring game at Alabama, and each one has drawn at least 78,000 to Bryant-Denny Stadium, including a record 92,300 in 2011.

“I think our fans out there really need to know the tradition of having an A-Day around here where we have a tremendous crowd, a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of support for our team,” he said. “We have a lot of good recruits here even though it’s on TV and ESPN and all that stuff. I think the players really appreciate the support.

“I think the message that gets sent by the great support that our team gets is something that has helped us be successful here in terms of the kind of players we’re able to recruit because they love being a part of this. They expect to see the best when they come to Alabama.”

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter @MarkSportsStar.
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