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If you rewind back to Alabama’s fall camp, there were reports that Nick Saban was juggling time between five quarterbacks for starter’s reps. The mere notion that one man would be so lax about a position that by all accounts needed the utmost attention and needed a clear leader — and fast, was beyond comprehension.

However, for all of the media who dared to question Saban on this, he scoffed at anyone who had the gall to call him to the carpet on something even the most casual fan would understand that the most important position on the field needs to be figured out — and figured out quickly.

But no, Saban waited…and waited…and waited to name someone as the definitive leader of the team — he even went so far as to name five players as the starter on the opening depth chart.

The issue for the first three weeks of this season has been clear. The quarterbacks have not been given enough work with the first-team offense and because of it, the shakiness, unsettledness, and lack of leadership has reared its head on the biggest game of the season for the Tide, and after a Cooper Bateman start faltered after an ill-advised throw resulted in an interception, Jake Coker was inserted the following series.

Mind you, Bateman had never started until this game and while he was off to a solid start, he did not instill the level of confidence necessary to have the most effective play calls given to him by offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who was ultra conservative for the majority of the first half.

The constant back and forth and shuffling of quarterbacks did little to inspire a team searching for a leader. Last season, while Blake Sims wasn’t the most talented of quarterbacks in recent memory, he made up for it with exceptional leadership and an understanding of Kiffin’s offense.

Knowing what was left in the stable, it was imperative for Saban to groom his next signal-caller, and to do so early. I was ridiculed when I suggested that Saban should name his starter after the second fall scrimmage and allow that person the opportunity to galvanize his team and take the reigns — even if there would be some bumps in the road.

However, not only did Saban name five quarterbacks as starters on his initial depth chart, there were reports that a revolving door of starters were possible between Coker, Bateman, and redshirt junior Alec Morris, who many believed wrapped up the job after the final fall scrimmage.

It’s hard to blame either Bateman or Coker when they are dealing with unfamiliar territory in which a typical structured Saban, has taken a completely different approach to his preparation and has become a shell of himself in that regard thus far.

Unless something changes quickly, this could be just the beginning of a downward spiral for the Tide. Saban has proven for years he is the best in the business as it pertains to planning and managing teams on the collegiate level. But for now, and this season, he appears lost — and unsure about what to do with his quarterbacks. The season itself is long, but for tonight, it cost his team a win.

Brandon Williams is an Editor and Columnist for Touchdown AlabamaYou can follow him on Twitter, @BWilliamsTDAL, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.

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