TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Coming out of Alabama’s A-Day spring game, there are still more questions than answers surrounding Alabama’s quarterback situation.
The two older quarterbacks — Cooper Bateman and David Cornwell — struggled on the afternoon, as both completed less than 40 percent of their passes for a combined 136 yards. Bateman also threw an interception. That, in large part, is due to having to face Alabama’s first-team defense, which may end up being one of the best in the country again.
The two younger quarterbacks — Blake Barnett and Jalen Hurts — showed flashes of their enormous potential. But they were, to a degree, aided by having the opportunity to face backups and even some third-string teammates on defense.
In his opening remarks, Alabama coach Nick Saban said the second-team offense (White squad) “moved the ball much more effectively.” He also complimented the two young quarterbacks for doing a “nice job of making some plays.”
Barnett had a few nice completions, including a 17-yard strike to receiver Cam Sims down the sideline.
Hurts threw a dart to the corner of the end zone and connected with Derek Kief for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:48 left in the scrimmage. The score capped a three-play, 52-yard drive that took just 48 seconds.
“That was a hell of a throw,” said Sims, who had three catches for a game-high 66 yards. “He put that right on the money, and only the receiver could get it.”
Hurts completed 73 percent of his passes (11-of-15) for 120 yards and a touchdown. Barnett went 9-of-16 for 112 yards.
“I think both guys made some good throws. Both guys showed their athleticism in terms of the ability to stretch plays,” Saban said of the two young quarterbacks. “We certainly look a little faster, a little quicker in terms of how we were moving on offense when those two were in there, especially in the first half. But there are also many occasions where they should have thrown the ball ‘hot,’ didn’t and got sacked — should have gotten rid of the ball, didn’t, tried to run around, lost 20 yards in a sack.
“So some of the inexperience shows in some of the negative plays that are sort of like unforced errors in tennis. You don’t really need to be taking these plays if you really knew what you’re doing. It has nothing to do with ability. It has everything to do with awareness, experience and knowledge, and then, reacting to what happens. I think that that’s going to be the key to the drill with those guys in terms of their development, but they both did some really good things today.”
From there, Saban further cautioned observers to not put too much stock into what happened on Saturday. Hurts and Barnett had the luxury of playing against Alabama’s second-team defense which Saban said is “probably not as good” as the second-team offense.
In addition, key players such as Jonathan Allen (shoulder), Dakota Ball (foot) and Kieth Holcombe (concussion) were all out, which hurt the Tide’s overall depth.
“I think that the depth on defense is one the concerns that we have, so it wasn’t surprising to me that the second offense was able to move the ball more effectively, but the first defense played a little better,” Saban said. “We have some guys that were mismatch problems in pass rush that really made it more difficult for the quarterbacks to operate. So, all these factors are things that you don’t look at on the surface. You just kind of look at the result and then you start drawing conclusions without sort of looking at all the facts.”