As the Alabama Crimson Tide welcomes the Ole Miss Rebels into Bryant-Denny Stadium in just over 48 hours for a rematch dubbed “Revenge”, Nick Saban is still in the process of figuring out who his full-time starting quarterback is going to be.
Take note that the operative word in the opening paragraph is “full-time”.
While Jake Coker has trotted on the field first in Alabama’s first two matchups, he has shared time in both contests with redshirt sophomore Cooper Bateman, which suggests Saban is still mulling over the actual quarterback situation and neither has completely separated himself from the other.
If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “If you have two quarterbacks, you have none.” This statement is apropos to what the Tide is currently dealing with as we speak. The most critical piece in all of this is that Saban, has never — I repeat, never won a championship when he has had issues at the quarterback position.
Flashback to 2003, Saban took the LSU Tigers to its first BCS Championship game and title and did so with whom many considered a game-managing quarterback in Matt Mauck. His next championship was won on the arm of redshirt junior Greg McElroy who won the job outright over Star Jackson in the spring.
The next true quarterback controversy he endured was in 2011 when then redshirt sophomore A.J. McCarron battled redshirt freshman Phillip Sims in a battle that lasted the entire spring and fall camp. While Saban was clear he wanted to let the two battle for a couple of games, the decision was made quickly and emphatically after the opening contest against Kent State as McCarron played the entire game the following week against Penn State.
This brings us to 2014 when Saban fell back into the trap of indecision in which Blake Sims — who by all accounts won the job over Coker by his play in the final fall scrimmage — still was never given the 100 percent backing by his coaches as the outright starter.
Hold up, this doesn’t sound right…
To expound upon this, the notion that Sims was not the outright starter seems misleading being he received almost every snap from center in meaningful playing time as the Tide’s quarterback. However, while it appeared he was the starter on the field, reports surfaced that Sims throughout the season still was not receiving all of the reps with the first-string offense in practice. Some suggested Coker was still getting as many as 40 percent of the work with the first-team throughout the season.
Could this be why Sims struggled so much against tougher competition (Ole Miss, Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn, Ohio State)? Having to have your reps cut does not suggest a full endorsement, and one thing Alabama can ill-afford this season is to have any form of a schism with the quarterback position.
Last season, Ole Miss took a quarterback many believed was marginal at best and downed the Tide due to many of what was stated above. The quarterback play for Alabama was not as sharp as it needed to be, and the possibility of not having the full support from the coaching staff for either quarterback was an issue all season long.
This year, while it appears one has not proven themselves to be the man, there has to be a selection by Saban in order to get the most from this team offensively. In 2011, McCarron had his moments where he struggled, however, he was allowed to grow by knowing he was the guy.
If a quarterback is not selected by this week, Alabama can pretty much kiss a national championship goodbye. Saban has, and probably never will win a title unless he follows the same formula he has in the past. Find a guy and stick with him — otherwise, be prepared for a disappointing season.