Alabama Football News

Ask Larry

Ask Larry

By Larry Burton

What do you think about Saban saying that Luke Del Rio was now the number three quarterback? You said you considered Alec Morris the number three QB and the “Go To” guy if McCarron went down. What do you say now?

On his weekly radio show, Nick Saban decided to praise a player that had been performing well in practice, backup quarterback Luke Del Rio. People, including myself, were shocked when he said, “(We are) probably not playing him this year unless we have to but he’s done a really good job as the third guy.”

Now did Saban just say that Del Rio was third string? That’s what many thought on hearing that sentence. I took this a different way.

AJ McCarron isn’t on Saban’s depth chart, he simply is the man.

What I think Saban was trying to say was that in terms of backups, Del Rio has elevated himself to being the number three backup, not number three on the actual depth chart.

Blake Sims is clearly number 2 behind McCarron, but is Del Rio number three? I don’t think that’s what he meant. I think Alec Morris is the man who is number three on the depth chart and Del Rio is simply the number three backup behind Sims and Morris.

However, that is my opinion and no one presumes to read Saban’s mind. But it is clear that Saban likes to redshirt freshmen quarterbacks and Morris has already had his red shirt year.

As for Sims being number two, don’t confuse snap taking counts to position when the game is one the line. In the 2009 season, even though Star Jackson took all the backup snaps during Saban’s first championship season at Alabama, on the eve of the national championship he announced that McCarron, not Star Jackson, would be the number two quarterback should McElroy not be able to play.

Jackson saw the writing on the wall and left the program the following year and left for Georgia State. Some people wanted to make that a racial thing, but the truth was, Jackson was simply not up to his high school billing and he couldn’t even win the starting job at a school like Georgia State, where he also left after one year.

Sims has made progress but is still considered a read option quarterback that doesn’t fit the Saban style of offense and the only backup quarterback Saban had public praise for in the spring was Morris. Could Sims be just a fill in backup for this year as Star Jackson was in 2009? I wouldn’t go that far, but if McCarron goes down, I’d look for Saban to replace him with as close to a McCarron clone as he could find. Morris is 6’3” and about 225 pounds and a pro style quarterback, Sims is 6’0” about 202 and is still considered to be a read option quarterback. Del Rio is 6’2” and about 203 pounds.

In case you were wondering, McCarron is a pro style quarterback, 6’4” and about 220 pounds. Make your own conclusions on who is the closest clone.

While Del Rio could come on, Saban would be unlikely to burn his red shirt with Morris available and Sims moving the team. While Sims has improved, his stats have come against tired defenses during mop up duty and they aren’t impressive for several reasons. First of all, his job is to finish killing the clock, not adding touchdowns. Saban is not one to try and needlessly run up the score late in the game. So the ability to make big plays aren’t exactly on his plate.

Still, his stats don’t show the ability to run the team as McCarron does. He’s 16 for 25 for 154 yards. That comes to about a 64% completion ratio and a little less than a 6.2 yard per attempt average.

So to wrap things up, I still believe if McCarron goes down to injury and someone had to come in and win the game against an LSU, Auburn or SEC East champion, that it would be Morris taking the snaps, not Sims and certainly not Del Rio. I am not discounting what Saban said, just understanding what he meant. It’s sort of like something my father used to say, “It’s not what I said, but what I meant that matters”.

Were cigars handed out after this Alabama game? I thought I read where Saban doesn’t allow it.

What you may have heard is that Saban doesn’t participate in it himself. He does allow it and they did do it after this last game. Saban has said that it was a custom that in place before he got there and the players like it so he allows it to go on. Alabama does however, notify the NCAA that by allowing players to get and consume these tobacco products that they have violated a minor secondary rule.

The cigars cannot be supplied by the school or any booster because that would represent another violation, improper benefits being bestowed on players. Players must buy them themselves.

Some players simply do not participate in smoking them and some players have been quoting as simply saving them for “souvenir” of the game.

Larry is an award winning writer whose work has appeared in almost every college football venue. Now he primarily writes for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter

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