Nick Saban let reporters know following the 2023 Alabama A-Day spring game during an April 22 press conference what he is looking for in the Crimson Tide’s quarterbacks — this following an underwhelming outing from starting quarterback options Jalen Milroe (19/37 completions) and Ty Simpson (12/26 passing).
“I think we have pretty good skill guys, I think we have guys that can make plays and as a quarterback, it’s not only just the plays that you can make – and I like both guys’ athleticism to be able to extend plays and get out of trouble and make plays with their feet, which they did a couple times today,” Saban prefaced before saying, “But at the same time, I think we’ve gotta work on going through progressions and develop confidence in the passing game so that we can distribute the ball to other people who can make plays more effectively and more efficiently.”
Saban dove deep into the type of mindset he wants his signal-callers to possess.
“I think the big thing we were working on with the quarterbacks is fundamentally what they have to do to be able to process what is the defense doing, alright, get a pre-read of what are they playing,” Saban said. “Are they playing Cover 2? Are they playing Cover 7? Are they playing 3-deep zone? So that you have a plan in your mind, ‘This is where I’m reading, this is where I’m going and this is the progression that I wanna go through,’ and trust in that and believe in that and not start drifting around in the pocket before you give up on what your read might be.”
Nick Saban on Alabama Freshman Quarterbacks
Saban went on to discuss the two incoming Alabama freshmen, Eli Holstein and Dylan Lonergan, following their debuts in front of a Bryant-Denny Stadium crowd. Lonergan was the most accurate quarterback of all four options, completing eight of 14 passes with a touchdown, while Holstein completed three of his six pass attempts, which included an interception.
“I think that both guys are making progress,” Saban said. “I think Dylan Lonergan has shown that he’s got a little more poise playing the position. He’s accurate throwing the ball. But Eli’s made good progress, too. I think he got in a hurry a few times today, which he was gonna do the right thing, but he also had a couple balls that were dropped that would have helped him.”
Lonergan had perhaps the least amount of hype entering the spring, but his A-Day performance indicated that at some point in the future, the Snellville, Georgia product could have the chops to be the Crimson Tide’s starter under center. Saban noted his superior play on Saturday.
“We wanted to get each one of those freshmen at least three series out there,” Saban said. “Dylan kind of moved the team a little better. I’m pleased with the progress that they’re making, and I think they both have bright futures.”
Nick Saban High on Alabama Receiving Corps
Saban avoided saying anything negative about the Alabama receiving corps, who all got shoutouts in different forms from the 71-year-old Crimson Tide coach.
“Isaiah Bond had a really good spring,” Saban said. “Ja’Corey Brooks had a good spring. Jermaine Burton had a really good spring. I think (Malik Benson), who made some catches at the end of the game today, has got a chance to be a real contributor. (Emmanuel Henderson) is getting better all the time, made a really nice touchdown catch today.”
His main point of improvement for the receiver room was contingent on the team’s quarterbacks improving themselves.
“I think we’ve got the right combination of people at that position,” Saban said. “We still need to pay better attention to detail in route running and sort of get a better, like, chemistry between quarterback and receiver so that we can develop confidence in the passing game.”