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When all else fails, go with knowledge

Stephen M. Smith- Touchdown Alabama Magazine

In an ongoing saga, Alabama’s quarterback competition enters its second full week of fall practice. Head coach Nick Saban was frustrated after last week’s scrimmage witnessed little to no separation. Saturday’s contest will provide a second opportunity, but this time, senior quarterback Jake Coker (foot) won’t be a factor. He is set to miss several days of practice.

Coach Saban used three words in his press conference last week to describe the quarterback Alabama needs, urgency, leadership and command. He said “I don’t think we need to have a quarterback that has to win the game. Just someone who can play well enough, make good choices and decision and not make the majors errors that would affect the game.”

The Crimson Tide is strong defensively, and is starting to create depth at running back.

If all else fails where quarterbacks are concerned, knowledge would be Saban’s ace in the hole. Now, insert Alec Morris and Cooper Bateman into the equation.

Both guys aren’t fan favorites; however, they have something that David Cornwell, Jake Coker and Blake Barnett don’t possess, a wealth of knowledge under Saban.

Morris, a junior, enters his fourth season on the roster. He was the only quarterback signed in Alabama’s 2012 recruiting class and the lone signal-caller with a national championship ring.

Morris put on a good showing in the team’s 2013 A-Day game, completing 10 of 18 passes for 141 yards. He displayed command in the huddle, solid arm strength and poise in the pocket.

Morris guided the Allen (Texas) Eagles to the Class 5A State playoffs as a senior in 2011.

He recorded 3,242 passing yards with 35 touchdowns and six interceptions. The Eagles finished the regular season a perfect 10-0 and won its first playoff game. It would then lose in the second-round to Euless Trinity. Morris came to Alabama as a three-star prospect.

He’s not as athletic as Blake Sims, but Cooper Bateman has some wheels on him.

A redshirt sophomore, Bateman enters his third season on the team. He excelled on special teams and as a scout team quarterback last season. Bateman saw action in all 14 games, serving as Alabama’s primary holder on field goals and extra points.

Bateman was one of the top quarterback prospects nationally in 2013.

He was listed a consensus four-star recruit out of Cottonwood High School in Murray, Utah. ESPN ranked him as the No.3 pocket passer, while 247 Sports and Scout.com position him as the No.5 pro-style quarterback. Bateman enrolled at Alabama in January 2013, after logging 7,654 career passing yards, 68 passing touchdowns and 12 rushing scores in his career at Cottonwood.

He was experiment at wide receiver back in March, yet Bateman has chemistry with the team.

Knowledge isn’t the sexiest asset fans see when they view quarterbacks, but it may happen this season. A NFL-caliber arm and exceptional athleticism are both nice, nevertheless, Saban would rather go with a quarterback that understands the system and protects Alabama’s defense.

Bryant-Denny Stadium will house another scrimmage Saturday. Will a young gun step forward or will knowledge be the deciding factor? This weekend shall be intriguing.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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