Over the last eight years, the Alabama faithful have been blessed with not worrying about who the next quarterback for the Crimson Tide will be. Since 2003 when Brodie Croyle took over the helm at Alabama, the succession of quarterbacks has been clear. After Croyle came John Parker Wilson only to be followed by Greg McElroy.
Now the University of Alabama is stuck at a crossroad not visited since Andrew Zow and Tyler Watts battled over a two year period that divided the fan base and coaching staff. While Saban has not let the QB tear his staff apart, the competition between Phillip Sims and A.J. McCarron has somewhat split the fan base down the middle.
Many think that McCarron has the starting spot due to his experience while others think that Sims athleticism gives him the edge. Let’s take a look at what each quarterback brings to the table.
While the nod has to go to McCarron with regards to experience on the field, both quarterbacks have been in the Jim McElwain system for over a year. Remember that Phillip Sims enrolled early and has only been on campus one semester less than McCarron.
With both quarterbacks performing at nearly identical levels during the spring game and this fall (according to Nick Saban), they posted similar numbers with McCarron throwing 21-38 for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns and an interception and Sims going 19 for 38 with 229 yards and one interception.
During the A-Day game, McCarron showed his ability to place the deep ball on a dime while Sims showed off his super quick release and accuracy on short to intermediate routes.
Alabama fans should feel comfortable with whomever Nick Saban chooses as the starting quarterback.
While Nick Saban has stated that he is willing and ready to use both quarterbacks during the season, I think that could be a major mistake. The only team in recent history in the SEC that has been able to win using two quarterback strategy was the 2006 Florida Gators.
Chris Leak was the starting quarterback, the pocket passer and mostly responsible for moving the team up and down the field. Freshman sensation Tim Tebow was called upon in special situations – mainly short yardage and goal line scenarios – to either move the chains or punch it in with his power running ability.
While the rotation worked smoothly, it was not your typical two-quarterback rotation. There was never any question regarding who the starter was. Each quarterback had their role, and each executed it rather well.
Moreover, two quarterback rotations tend to diminish the confidence of both quarterbacks. Tim Tebow’s introduction actually improved Chris Leak’s play, made him more vocal, and energized him. For the exact opposite situation, the 2010 Gator’s quarterback debacle perfectly demonstrated how rotating quarterbacks can kill confidence (John Brantley).
Getting back to McCarron and Sims, both quarterbacks are pocket passers and are more than capable of being the field general that Saban loves at quarterback. Whichever player better shows his ability to mitigate turnovers and move the chains will become the next starting quarterback at Alabama.
Saban will more than likely give each player equal playing time for the first game of the season against Kent St. and will likely do the same for the Penn State game; though, whoever has the hot hand in Happy Valley will more than likely finish the game and possibly become the premier starter at Alabama.
If however, there is no clear frontrunner by then, the North Texas game could be the final determinant. I am optimistic that Saban will name a true starter by week four and will end the worries of a two quarterback rotation.
It is both a curse and a blessing to have two quarterbacks to consider as starter. However, at this point, all fans can do is trust Nick Saban’s ability to handle the team’s personnel and put the best quarterback on the field.