No Determination On Quarterbacks

Everyone has to earn his job every week, Alabama Coach Nick Saban said prior to the start of the new week on Monday. As it turns out, no one has yet won the job at the most critical position on a football team.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said that a number one quarterback may be selected prior to this week's game at Penn State. But, then again, maybe the Crimson Tide will continue with the two quarterback system that was used in last week's 48-7 win over Kent State. Or maybe it will be something else.

The bottom line is making "a determination as to which guy will give us the best opportunity."

Bama went into the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility for practice Monday as heavy rains drenched Tuscaloosa. The Tide worked for about two hours in preparation for Saturday's game at Penn State. Kickoff Saturday will be at 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 central time) with national television coverage by ABC.

Saban said, "We're going to continue to develop both of the quarterbacks. We're not going to name a starter today." He said that could happen later in the week for the Penn State game. Or, he said, it could be that a combination of the two – sophomore A.J. McCarron or redshirt freshman Phillip Sims – would be continued.

"The important thing that we want to focus on with both quarterbacks is what do we need to do to play as well as you're capable of playing and continue to improve and work through with both guys the importance of doing the little things right and the fundamental things right so you can play the way you're capable of playing," Saban said. "I think both guys are capable of playing better than they did -- not that we're disappointed in either one of them. We still feel like we have two really good players at that position. Both of those guys will continue to develop and help us somewhere down the road."

In a brief recap of the win over Kent State, Saban said, "Obviously, there's a lot of things after the first game that you look at that you say some guys played extremely well, some guys did a lot of good things, other guys have certain things that they can improve on, but I think the biggest thing probably was that the biggest lesson to be learned for every player is that every fundamental error that we made and technique has a consequence. We didn't play very well in certain areas of our team because we didn't execute fundamentally the way we needed to.

"Too many guys give you that, 'I thought I could do this.' I don't care what you thought. What were you told to do? What was your job? What were you supposed to do here. How you're supposed to step, how you're supposed to block the guy, how you're supposed to play your gap, how you're supposed to blitz the hole whatever it is on any part of the team that every guy on the team should learn a lesson that if you don't do things correctly fundamentally there's going to be a consequence. I think that's the thing that we really need to emphasize with our team is we've got to get better fundamental execution in a lot of areas.

"Now there's a lot of good things in the game. But my focus as a coach on it's great to get a win is how much are we going to improve from last week to the next week? That's what we want to try and build upon. Most great teams will make a significant amount of improvement from last week to this week."

Alabama played a number of young players in the game, including no fewer than two true freshmen, two junior college transfers, and a handful of redshirt freshmen.

"Most of the new players that played, most of them, did not play as well as we had anticipated or hoped whether it's anxiety, first-game jitters, whatever," Saban said. "We need to make an improvement in that area."

It was something of a surprise that an offensive line with four returning starters did not get high marks. "We did not play with the consistency up front in the offensive line that we need to execute with," Saban said. "We looked at some different combinations of guys in that particular game. We'll make some evaluations through the course of this week and see what we can do to try and make that situation a little bit better."

Saban said the only injury from the Kent State game was widr eceiver Kevin Norwood suffering a sprained ankle, but that Norwood was not expected to miss much work.

To the surprise of no one, Saban said he thinks Penn State is "a very, very good team."

He said he thinks the Lions are a different team than the one that lost 24-3 to Bama in Tuscaloosa last year. "They seem like they play faster," he said of the Penn State team that blasted Indiana State 41-7 last Saturday. He complimented the play of quarterbacks and receivers and noted there were seven starters back on defense.

"This is more a veteran team," he said, adding that Penn State has a very good home record against non-conference opponents.

"There're a lot of challenges here for us," Saban said. "We have to play on the road for the first time. This will be a good experience for us down the road."

And, of course, Saban paid tribute to legendary Penn State Coach Joe Paterno.

"I don't know how many games I've won as a head coach," Saban (who has won 135 games in 15-plus seasons), "but I know it's not a third as many as what Joe Paterno has (402 in 45-plus seasons).

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