TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — All throughout last year’s quarterback competition, Alabama coach Nick Saban harped on wanting a player to “take the bull by the horns.”
Saban wants the same this year. But through eight practices and one scrimmage, Saban said he hasn’t seen a player do that.
“No, I haven’t. I think two things have to happen,” Saban said. “I think a guy has to win his teammates over, but I think you’ve also got to put a guy in position to be able to do that. We rotated a lot of guys around today. We’re trying to give everybody a chance right now. We’ll evaluate how they did on film and divvy up the reps for next week.”
So far, redshirt junior Cooper Bateman has been the first quarterback through drills with David Cornwell behind him. Redshirt freshman Blake Barnett and January enrollee Jalen Hurts are also pushing for the right to replace Jake Coker.
Bateman is the only one of the group who has any experience as he started one game (Ole Miss) last season and played in others. But what Cornwell lacks in experience, he seems to make up for with natural throwing ability. Cornwell is the best natural passer of the group. In Saban’s opening statement on Saturday, Cornwell was the only quarterback he mentioned by name, stating that the redshirt sophomore “threw the ball fairly well.”
Saturday’s weather conditions made for an interesting afternoon. It was a very windy day in Tuscaloosa, and Saban said it had an affect on the passing game.
“They made some good throws today,” Saban said of the quarterbacks. “There were some inconsistencies in the passing game. When I say that, I’m not just talking about quarterback throwing the ball. I’m talking about the protection, the receivers running the right routes, the timing, all those things. I think the thing that affects the passing game and the kicking game as much as anything is the win, and it was really windy. And it was a cross wind, so that makes it even more difficult. There were some good plays made today. I’m encouraged by all those guys.”
No passing statistics were provided after Alabama’s first spring scrimmage on Saturday. Saban said it’s not about the results.
“The big thing they need to do is each and every one of them can’t be thinking about ‘Where I am on the depth chart, what my position is’ and worry about that,” Saban said. “They need to worry about what they need to do to be better so they can play winning football at the position and do the things that they need to do to become a really good quarterback. I think they’ve done a pretty good job of that so far.”
Asked if the coaching staff felt the need to change Barnett’s throwing motion, Saban said he didn’t see it as an issue because Barnett is accurate enough and has a strong enough arm to make throws on time.
From there, Saban took the time to explain what the two young quarterbacks — Barnett and Hurts — need to work on going forward.
“With the young guys, it’s to get them to try to make the play that’s there, and don’t think you have to make every play and go rat trap on things when you could just execute and do what everybody expects you to do,” Saban said. “I think that’s just a matter of developing confidence and timing in what you’re doing, and I think it just takes time and repetition to do that. So I think both those young guys, that’s what I would be more concerned about both of them doing.”