Jam Miller shines as Alabama football holds new A-Day format in first with Kalen DeBoer

There was no unique sport coat for the Alabama football coach at A-Day this year.

For all the years he ran the spring game at Bryant-Denny Stadium, Nick Saban wore notable jackets. He was hard to miss. This year, you had to look harder to spot new coach Kalen DeBoer on Saturday.

He wore a crimson hoodie, tan pants, white Nike sneakers and a crimson hat. He looked similar to many staff members on the sideline.

The difference of the attire of the head football coaches served as a microcosm of the difference in A-Day under DeBoer compared to Saban ― an overall different look. No better or worse. Just different.

The offense and defense faced off in front of a crowd announced at 72,358. It differed from the Saban format where it was the first-team offense/second-team defense vs. the first-team defense/second-team offense. There were no quarters or halves.

The Alabama offense beat the defense 34-28 with an irregular scoring system in DeBoer's spring-game debut at UA.

Here are observations and takeaways from A-Day.

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Jalen Milroe might have already found new favorite weapon: Germie Bernard

Alabama lost all three of its starting receivers from 2023, two to the transfer portal and one to the NFL Draft. Wide receiver Germie Bernard appears to be at the front of the line to fill the void.

Bernard, the Washington transfer, caught two deep passes on early drives for 88 yards. Both of his long catches set up rushing touchdowns.

Bernard even showed the ability to run after the catch on his second grab, which went for 52 yards. Bernard finished with three receptions for 122 yards.

It's a limited sample size, but so far Bernard showed he's got big-play ability that should help Milroe this season.

Rushing offense off to a strong start

The running game often looked to be working at a different speed than the defense early in the game.

Jam Miller started things off with a big run on the first drive. Then Justice Haynes capped the drive with a 4-yard rushing touchdown. The next drive, Richard Young shined. He ran through some players for a 9-yard gain early in the drive. Then to cap things off, Young sidestepped one defender then ran through another.

By the fifth drive, Miller ran for a 48-yard gain. Soon after, he ran for his second score of the day.

Miller led the rushing attack with eight carries for 83 yards and two scores. Alabama ran for 206 yards on 42 carries and four touchdowns.

Alabama defense starts slow but flips switch

The way the game started, the defense looked like it was in for a long day.

Alabama's offense didn't have much trouble moving the ball the first few drives. The offense scored touchdowns on the first three before a field goal on the fourth. The defense didn't get a three-and-out stop until the sixth drive of the game after the offense had already scored 31. And on that sixth drive, backup Austin Mack was the quarterback.

Then the defense started to get stops consistently. It registered five straight three-and-outs, all worth three points.

As the game progressed, it was much more common for the defense to get a stop than it was for the offense to score. The adjustments the defense made as the game progressed worked.

Nick Kelly is the Alabama beat writer for The Tuscaloosa News, part of the USA TODAY Network, and he covers Alabama football and men's basketball. Reach him at or follow him @_NickKelly on X, the social media app formerly known as Twitter.

This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Alabama football: Jam Miller shines in new-look A-Day under Kalen DeBoer