Nick Saban walked into the pressroom Monday and answered the question many people within Alabama’s borders have had since former Crimson Tide quarterback Jake Coker graduated.
It wasn’t a concrete answer, though.
“We’re sort of down to two guys here,” Saban said. “Cooper Bateman and Blake Barnett are probably the two guys that we’re getting ready to play in this game, and that’s the way it’s going to be for right now.”
Saban didn’t announce who of the two would start, but he has narrowed the competition down to just between Bateman and Barnett.
Bateman is a redshirt junior and is the only quarterback with game experience. The others haven’t had that experience, but Barnett has separated himself from the pack.
“I think that in Blake’s case, he’s been here for a little longer, a year-and-a-half, so he has a little bit of knowledge of the offense,” Saban said. “And he’s more confident I think in what he’s doing. He’s gotten bigger and stronger and he’s throwing the ball effectively.”
Earlier in the week many reports stated Jalen Hurts was winning the race. Hurts is a true freshman, though, and Saban said he doesn’t know the offense as well right now.
Saban didn’t rule out him from playing, though. Hurts was still listed as a co-starter next to Barnett and Bateman as a quarterback on the depth chart that was released immediately after Saban’s statements.
“Jalen’s got a tremendous future,” Saban said. “I think he’s got great ability. But I think that what you have to be really concerned about is, is a guy ready to go out there and not just do things that he can do, but can he run the offensive team?”
It looks like this will be the third year in a row Saban will play more than one quarterback in the opening game. Last season, it was not until Week 4 that Saban decided to stick with Coker. The year before that it took until Week 2 before Blake Sims took charge at the helm.
This year may well be the first year three quarterbacks play for the spot, too.
“Cooper has played some in a game here, which I think that experience is certainly a benefit to him, but I don’t know how these other guys are going to play in a game,” Saban said. “Some of these guys go in a game and they play a lot better.”
Performance during practices and games are completely different sometimes.
Saban looked back at Rohan Davey, who started quarterback for him at LSU, and said he plays multiple quarterbacks at the beginning because he doesn’t know who is game-ready.
“Rohan Davey was a guy that I used to go like this in practice (covers face with hands) because some days he would throw the ball end over end in practice and then go throw for 400 yards in the game,” Saban said. “I kind of like that. Even though it was hard to take sometimes in practice. But you knew the guy was going to always play well in the game, because he was that kind of competitor. I can’t tell you that about two of our guys because they’ve never played in a game before.”
Davey helped LSU take the SEC Championship in 2001 and was the first LSU quarterback to surpass 3,000 passing yards in a season, despite his performance in practice. Saban is looking for that competitive edge Davey had, and maybe one of the quarterbacks will stand out against USC.
Until then, the depth chart will continue to list multiple names at the quarterback position.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports