Saban’s Thoughts On Bama Quarterbacks

Alabama is not releasing quarterback scrimmage statistics this spring, but there were questions about the position where senior Jake Coker, junior Alex Morris, sophomore Cooper Bateman (who is also spending some time at wide receiver), redshirt freshman David Cornwell, and true freshman Blake Barnett are in competition.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said all five took part in Saturday’s final closed scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium. (“Closed” perhaps is not the best description since it was viewed by, among others, hundreds of members of the various Red Elephant Clubs, A-Club Football Alumni, Nick’s Kids participants, and numerous prospects and their families.)

In regard to the 2015 Alabama football team creating its own identity, Saban said there are situations that affect the process, not the least of which is the Crimson Tide “giving five quarterbacks all an opportunity to play.

“I think that they all have shown at some point in time they have some ability to do it, but nobody has really yet stood out to the point where you can say, ‘Well, that’s the guy.’”

Saban then connected the dots.

“That affects continuity,” he said. “But I think if we had that resolved, it would be easier for us to establish an identity on offense.”

The Tide coach noted in the scrimmage that there had been too many turnovers. He did give credit to the defensive for “a great job of ball-hawking, tipping balls, attacking the ball, and doing a good job of creating turnovers, which is something we have really emphasized.”

Naturally, Saban was asked if another point of emphasis isn’t to get on with choosing at least a top two or three in the quarterback race.

Just as naturally, Saban said that it is important and that the time will come. He explained, “Each day we give three guys the bulk of the work, and then the next day we rotate and give [that day’s] three guys the bulk of the work. So there is continuity.

“When the scrimmages come -- because you only have two -- you want to give everybody an opportunity so you can evaluate them. So that’s what we’ve done, we’ll probably continue to do that even in A-Day. And I think most importantly over the summer, and in fall camp, we’re going to need to establish, ‘OK, here’s the guy.’ But somebody’s got to take the bull by the horns and do that too. It’s not for us to give away, it’s for somebody to earn.”

Saban was asked specifically about David Cornwell. The somewhat surprise answer was, “He has done probably as good a job as anybody this spring in terms of he’s very bright, has a great understanding of the offense, does a great job from a leadership standpoint of helping other players play better when he’s in there,” Saban said.

The coach added that Cornwell “has played smart for the most part all spring. It was going to be interesting today to see -- we put him in situations today where, even though he doesn’t have game experience -- how he would handle those things, and in some cases he did a really good job. A couple of other times I’m sure he’s going to learn from that experience and have a chance to do better. So we’re really encouraged by the progress he’s made all spring.”

The quarterback is ordinarily a team leader. Saban said, “I think all the guys have done a pretty good job of that. I think it's more natural for some than others. I think all these guys at some point in time have shown they have the capability of doing it. I think the issue is, who can do it with the most consistency. Who can - it's just like the guy that shows he can hit a home run. But the good home run hitters hit it more often than the other guys.

“So we're looking for the guys that can do it more consistently and who is going to help play winning football at the position on the most consistent basis. Knowledge and experience comes into that. Instincts and awareness, understanding of the offense, confidence, all these things are factors in this. Ability to be accurate, be a good decision maker with the ball, take care of the ball.

“So this is not something that you can just sort of wave a wand and say 'OK, I think we've got it here.' This decision is going to be made over time. And we're going to be fair and give everybody a fair opportunity. And when the time comes, we're going to have to make a choice and decision and go to work on making that guy the guy.”

The A-Day Game is next Saturday, April 18, at 2 p.m. CDT at Bryant-Denny Stadium. There is no admission charge. The Tide will practice again on Tuesday and Thursday prior to finishing spring practice in the A-Day Game.

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