Crimson Tide averaging almost 81000 at A-Day under Nick Saban

"They were the best team we played against with the best quarterback, and where we needed to play well, we didn't".

"It is insane", Kiffin said.

"I'll never get over it because you never do with those kind of losses", Saban told ESPN. "So we tried - and I'm being very positive, and I was in agreement with what we did - to create ways that we could throw the ball, make explosive plays in the passing game without doing a whole lot of drop backs".

"My theory on it is we want to stay basic to try to get better execution with the players, especially some of the other guys, the backup players that don't have the knowledge or experience", Saban said in his final news conference before A-Day.

Despite being the SEC's Offensive Player of the Year during a season in which he set several program records as a freshman, Hurts famously struggled with consistency in the postseason while facing three of the nation's Top 15 pass defenses last season. They wrote the one thing that could be controversial. That was not a shot at him at all. "That's just not really how I do it. I don't. It's just not my style". "We got out to practice with the motto of improving, and I think we've done a great job of that this spring".

Hurts will get a chance to flash those improvements Saturday at Alabama's annual A-Day Spring Game before the Crimson Tide begin preparations for their season opener September 2 against the Florida State Seminoles. We won every game when we were there that he played.

Even his pronouns - a lot of "we" and "our" - indicate that Saban takes ownership of the way Hurts was handled down the postseason run in 2016.

Defense: Alabama's defense always starts with the front, and that will be anchored by Da'Ron Payne, who has All America potential. "It's really good to see him out there". And a year ago, and this is no criticism of Lane or anybody, but having a freshman quarterback [Hurts] and trying to accommodate his skill set, we got to where we weren't very effective passing the ball.

Hurts saw his first action coming off the bench for Blake Barnett, then won the job permanently while evolving into one of the SEC's most risky individual offensive threats.

Kiffin said he thought Hurts and Tagovailoa eventually would be first-round-pick-caliber quarterbacks.

  • Julie Sanders