safety Will Lowery
said, "I was on the steak side last year. We're definitely trying to take it again this year. It's something to spice it up. It's delicious. We all eat together."
There are differences, though. Lowery said the steak-eaters sit together and linger over their meals. "Everybody who eats beans shovels a few into their mouth and scoots out pretty quick," he said.
The annual battle for steak vs. beans, the A-Day Game, begins at 2 p.m. CDT Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Although the weather in Tuscaloosa was not good on Friday, the forecast is for perfect conditions Saturday. There is no admission charge at the game and it will be televised nationally by ESPNU.
One of the Alabama A-Day traditions is the recognition of captains in a ceremony at Denny Chimes prior the start of the A-Day Game. At approximately 12:15 p.m. Saturday, Greg McElroy
, Mark Barron
and Dont'a Hightower
will put their foot- and hand-prints in concrete with past Bama captains around the base of the campus landmark.
Another ceremony will follow on the plaza of the North end zone where the statue of Nick Saban
will be unveiled as it joins those of four other coaches who have led Alabama to national championships – Wallace Wade, Frank Thomas, Paul Bryant, and Gene Stallings.
Lowery, a 5-10, 180-pound junior from Hoover, was almost unknown going into spring practice a year ago. He was frequently mentioned by Saban for his work in the spring and in the fall became a regular on special teams and as a back-up safety. He played in every game and was in on 33 tackles (21 primary) had interceptions against Penn State
and South Carolina
. When Barron was injured in the final game of the season, Lowery got his first start in Bama's 49-7 win over Michigan State
in the Capital One Bowl.
Lowery said, "It's been a long journey, definitely. Now being on this side of it, it's definitely nice to have some experience and kind of have a feel for everything that's going on."
Nevertheless, he said, his expectations for himself have not changed. "Every time I step on the field, my goal is to get better and play to the best of my ability," he said. "That hasn't changed since I was old enough to have goals for myself, I guess."
Lowery said it has been a good spring. "A lot of guys are coming along," he said. "We'll try to finish it up and go into summer on a good foot."
One aspect of spring has been that several safeties have not been at full strength. Barron has been in a black shirt (designating no contact) throughout the spring, as has Jarrick Williams
. Robby Green
was suspended for the spring. Lowery said those in black shirts "basically did everything except tackle. They were still expected to get into position to tackle, show they had the ability to make the tackle. It really didn't have much affect on what we were doing."
With all starters and several key reserves returning from last season, Lowery said this spring the secondary has "a lot more cohesion."
He said "It's a lot more experience. We have a lot better feel for what's going on. There's not so much confusion on some plays. Some of our more difficult calls we have down better. We're all on the same page most of the time."
Lowery said that quarterbacks A.J. McCarron
and Phillip Sims
"both look pretty good to me. They've both showed a lot to me. I try to stay away from them. It's not my area. I try to make them both look bad in my job. But they're tough. They both have really strong arms, can make some throws that not a lot of quarterbacks can make. Either one of them that's in there, you have to be ready."
Lowery also pointed to young receivers who are "busting their butts to improve." He named DeAndrew White
, Kevin Norwood
, and Kenny Bell
He's also noticed one of his secondary mates as having a good spring.
is one of the best athletes I've ever been around," Lowery said. Menzie was injured much of last season, but Lowery said, "Now that he's had some time to heal up, that guy's explosive. He can do some damage on the field."
Those who follow Alabama football are aware of the long tradition of the members of the winning team in the A-Day Game having steak and the losers eating beans at the post-spring practice "banquet." Almost no one remembers from year-to-year which players were on which team. The exception is the obvious one: the players.