Jake Coker, David Cornwell and Blake Barnett were the three heavyweights entering fall practice for Alabama at quarterback. He lost to Jameis Winston at Florida State and to Blake Sims last year, yet many thought Coker would snatch the opportunity this season.
His inability to function when plays break down allowed Barnett to push him. The true freshman and California native is talented, but still needs room to grow. Barnett’s rough outing in the team’s first scrimmage was evident. Cornwell, on the other hand, has fallen off the map.
The 6-foot-5, 221-pound redshirt freshman was considered to be a frontrunner for the starting job, after displaying leadership qualities and solid mechanics back in March. Frustration has set in with the Oklahoma native, resulting in a tough fall camp and a rough second scrimmage.
A familiar face usually tends to have success at Alabama.
Former quarterbacks Greg McElroy, AJ McCarron and Blake Sims all fit the bill. All three players possessed a confidence and toughness about themselves. Teammates fed off their energy, while coaches loved their leadership. These three individuals brought either a conference championship, national title or both back to Tuscaloosa.
Ironically, this year’s team has a familiar face at quarterback; however, he’s often forgotten.
Redshirt junior quarterback Alec Morris has risen to the top of the conversation. A former three-star recruit, Morris was the only quarterback signed in Alabama’s 2012 recruiting class.
He totaled 21 pass attempts in Alabama’s second scrimmage last week, and head coach Nick Saban said Morris “is showing the type of command that’s needed.”
Listed below is a breakdown of five reasons why Morris will be the starter.
1. National championship experience
Summary: It may sound weird, but Alec Morris is the lone quarterback on this year’s team that has a national championship ring. He received in 2012 as a redshirt freshman under AJ McCarron. Morris observed McCarron’s characteristics and command in the huddle.
He was constantly seen around McCarron and Saban with a clipboard, gleaming knowledge of the system. Morris may not have won a championship as a starter, but he knows what it takes.
2. Knowledge of the system
Summary: A quarterback can’t be successful in the Southeastern Conference unless it knows how to manage what it has. Coach Saban wasn’t wasting air in the various times that he’s preached this sermon. Morris enters his fourth year on the team, and according to multiple players, he is the most knowledgeable one on the roster. He stays immersed in the playbook.
After Saturday’s scrimmage, Saban told the media how the players are more comfortable around Morris because he knows where they are suppose to be on the field. This type of leadership only comes through practice and consistent studying, both of which are Morris’s strong suits.
3. Arm Strength
Summary: Does Alec Morris have an elite NFL arm? No, but it’s strong enough to get the job done. Former Crimson Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson had a better arm than McElroy, yet it was the latter who guided Alabama to a national championship in 2009.
Alabama’s 2013 spring game is one of few clips of Morris in a game-like situation, but coaches saw the production. He completed 10 of 18 pass attempts for 141 yards.
Morris showed command in the huddle and drove the ball downfield.
He was the only quarterback in this year’s spring game that didn’t toss an interception. If Alabama’s offensive line blocks well, Morris could carve opponents’ to pieces.
4. Game Manager
Summary: It’s the most scrutinized term in football jargon, but to face facts, all of Alabama’s national titles under Saban have come from a “game manager” at quarterback.
Game managers, like gunslingers, can make all the throws, they just chose when to take shots. The Crimson Tide knows what it has on defense, at running back and wide receiver.
A consistent navigator under center is the difference between Alabama running the table or losing multiple games. Morris is the equivalent to McElroy and McCarron in his first season.
5. Team chemistry
Summary: Leadership intangibles are so important in college football. Morris has bonded with every player on this year’s offense. Each individual has confidence in him, and therefore, they play better around him. Morris has seen Alabama win a national championship (2012), two Southeastern Conference titles (2012, 2014) and make three bowl appearance in his tenure.
Coach Saban said “Alabama doesn’t need a quarterback that has to win it games. Just someone that can play well enough, make the right choices/decisions and avoid the big mistake.”
Morris has chemistry with this team and possess the capabilities to guide it under center.