The Alabama Crimson Tide football team wrapped up their final scrimmage of fall camp today and once again, Nick Saban has not given any clear indication as to who the opening day starter will be. If we flashback to last year around this time, the entire Alabama fan base was pretty much split directly down the middle as to who they felt Saban should name as the outright starter, and while his players are largely protected from dealing with the media, the outside noise was hard to ignore as fans desperately wanted incoming transfer Jake Coker to surface as the opening day starter in favor of Blake Sims.
While Saban has the capability to deflect speculation, it would behoove him to allow another year of this and to allow it to play out so long would be detrimental to the potential success of this team — especially with the amount of potential it has.
According to many reports, last year’s fall camp was presumably neck-and-neck with Coker holding a slight edge over Sims until the final scrimmage when Coker apparently struggled mightily leaving Saban no choice but to elect Sims the starter against West Virginia.
While Sims was the first to trot on the field that day, it still seemed Saban begrudgingly kept Sims as the starter being there was still room for interpretation with the constant reports of Coker being a play away from taking over, and this was still apparent as Coker took first-team snaps against Florida Atlantic last year.
A repeat of this could possibly be catastrophic for this team this year. Why? Well, for starters, the overall leadership on offense is not what it was a year ago. The Tide boasted three returning starters at wide receiver, a running back in T.J. Yeldon, Jalston Fowler, and others who were able to deal with uncertainty at the quarterback spot for a few weeks.
With the addition of so many younger players such as Calvin Ridley, ArDarius Stewart, Chris Black, Robert Foster, and others who have seen very little playing time, Saban must make a decision quickly in order for these players to feel as comfortable as possible with their new quarterback. It’s essential they build the trust and chemistry necessary when faced with tough times especially before the gut-wrenching portion of the schedule that is sure to test the physical and mental toughness of these young players.
While the summer whispers that trickled over from the spring were a Coker/David Cornwell battle, the forgotten man among the group was Alec Morris who quietly put together an effective spring practice as well as a solid fall camp. While every single quarterback threw an interception during Alabama’s annual A-Day game, Morris methodically orchestrated the offense and completed 7-11 of his passes for 60 yards with zero interceptions.
Does this mean Morris will be Saban’s opening day starter? Not necessarily, but Saban has never asked his quarterbacks to be superman. In the most simplest of terms, all Saban wants his quarterback to do is not screw up. That’s it. Protect the football, call the correct plays, process the information quickly, and be a leader. These are the traits each of his championship quarterbacks exhibited from Matt Mauck to A.J. McCarron.
Saban has proven over the years to be very tight-lipped and tends to reveal little to no information about these matters. He’s even gone so far as to recently prohibit the media from posting any information about players during the viewing period as if it’s G-14 classified information. Be that as it may, a starter needs to be made now. With teams such as Auburn and Ohio State pretty much set at their quarterback positions, a three to four week experiment with two is enough to have Alabama eliminated altogether from the playoff picture.
He may not like it, but Saban doesn’t have much of a choice in this matter. He needs to decide on a signal caller, and time is not on his side.