TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — In terms of media members, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit is one of the few who has a somewhat intimate knowledge of Nick Saban and Alabama’s football program.
Herbstreit’s position with ESPN, as well as his long-standing relationship with Saban, allows the former Ohio State quarterback to get a feel for the inner workings of the program.
Herbstreit was in Tuscaloosa for Alabama’s A-Day game this past Saturday calling the action with Joey Galloway and Joe Tessitore, and was able to speak with Saban and Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. During an appearance on the Paul Finebaum Show, Herbstreit offered his thoughts on the Crimson Tide’s quarterback situation.
“I think they are — just based on what I saw and what they’ve said to me — I think they’re a little further ahead with the quarterbacks that they have,” Herbstreit told Finebaum. “I think they feel very good about where they’ll be by the time fall comes around.
“Whether it’s Cooper Bateman because of the experience that gets the edge. I think right now if they started a game — Lane has even said it, Nick said it — if they started right now, Cooper Bateman — just based on a little bit more knowledge, a little bit more experience, a little bit more confidence in the system — he probably has the edge as they get ready for the summer.”
That statement lines up with what Saban told ESPN’s Chris Low. Bateman started the A-Day with the first-team offense (Crimson team). He didn’t have the best day passing (9-of-24, 86 yards, interception), but showed maturity in getting rid of the ball when the pressure came. David Cornwell (5-of-13, 50 yards) was the second quarterback with the Crimson team.
Blake Barnett and Jalen Hurts quarterbacked the second-team offense (White team). Barnett went 9-of-16 for 112 yards. Hurts completed 73 percent of his passes (11-of-15) for 120 yards and a touchdown.
“Blake Barnett’s skillset is tremendous,” Herbstreit said. “He has a problem right now of potentially turning the ball over when they do scrimmages. And as you know with Nick Saban, that’s just not going to work. So that’s the thing that he’s going to have to work on is quit trying to feel like he has to make a big play every play. If he can do that, I think he’ll be right in the mix. And then the freshman, Hurts. His skillset is very different. He’s a passer who is incredibly athletic. It wouldn’t shock me at all no matter who wins the job if Hurts doesn’t end up coming in and having kind of his own package in short yardage and redzone situations.”