Franchione still waiting on the quarterbacks

Tide coach Dennis Franchione has been waiting for months for Andrew Zow or Tyler Watts to pull ahead in the race for Bama's first-string quarterback. After Wednesday morning's scrimmage, he's still waiting. "They're both about in the same boat, which is where they've been for too long," Franchione said.

Neither Zow nor Watts distinguished himself in the 82-play scrimmage, but Franchione said he wasn't expecting much after only nine practices. He said he told the quarterbacks only two things: "Don't beat us," and "move the chains."

"We didn't do a lot of things that beat us today, like turning the ball over," Franchione said. "As for how well we moved the chains, I don't think we could have made many long drives right now."

Watts finished 3-for-9 for 27 yards in the scrimmage, while Zow was 6-for-14 for 52 yards and a touchdown.

Watts said he was most concerned about lingering mistakes. Three quarterbacks – Watts, Zow and freshman Brodie Croyle – had problems handling shotgun snaps. "I was taking my eye off the ball and trying to run with it and do things with it before I caught it," Watts said. "You can't have that. That's a mistake, and I've got to work on that.

Junior quarterback Tyler Watts barks out the signals during practice last spring.

Despite the muffed snaps, none of those miscues proved to be a major problem for the offense, and Watts said the offense has made improvements. "Were better than we used to be. We're still making a lot of mistakes, but we're cutting down."

Watts showed good mobility, but was off on a few throws. "Things started clicking a little bit better towards the end," he said. "I was low on my first three or four throws and that really irritated me."

Zow missed badly on a few patterns and made a questionable pass into tight coverage once, but also connected on several shorter outs, which Franchione said he liked. "The quick throws get the ball out of the quarterback's hands, and we can handle pressure a little bit easier," Franchione said.

At least once quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Les Koenning chastised a receiver for an improperly run route. Another time, he took a running back to task for missing a block. Franchione said Zow or Watts weren't always to blame when things went wrong.

"Sometimes part of their deficiency is somebody else missing a block or not doing what they're supposed to do, and you have to go back and watch the tape and re-gauge how much was them and how much was [other] people that hurt them."

Brodie Croyle and Jonathan Richey also saw action in the scrimmage. Croyle was 3-for-3 for 14 yards with another 27 yards on the ground, while Richey was 2-for-2 for 8 yards.

Franchione said Croyle will be redshirted unless he gets meaningful playing time this fall, but the decision on his status won't be for a while. "We're not going to waste a year on just a few plays," Franchione said. "We've got to determine how much he will be in the mix."

And, by the way, don't expect to know the most anticipated decision of the fall until Saturday morning, Sept. 1. Franchione said he's not planning to tell the media whether he's chosen Zow or Watts. "I've got nothing against you guys," he told reporters. "I just don't want to tell UCLA."

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