To some reporters on hand for Alabama Coach Nick Saban’s press conference, the annual Monday of opening week briefing that is frequently devoted primarily to discussion of the depth chart, it was a bit of a surprise that so many questions continued to be asked about the quarterback spot.
To review, five men were in the quarterback battle which began last January, right after 2014 starter Blake Sims completed his career. They were, in order of class rank:
Last week, Saban revealed that the group had been cut to three for the competition to start the first game. When the depth chart was revealed Monday, the order of those three was Coker, Bateman, Morris (all on the first team line).
Will the starting quarterback know before Saturday?
“I’d like to have let him know three months ago,” Saban said. And he reiterated the stance he has maintained since spring practice. “It's not about what I like, it's about what we need to do for our team right now and making a decision for our team. We're going to make the decision when we think it's the right time to make decision for this group of guys.”
Do you have to have it down to just one quarterback?
Saban said, “If both guys can play well and both guys do well, not necessarily. I don't remember saying we're going to play multiple quarterbacks, I don't know where that came from exactly. But there's been a lot of people have success playing two quarterbacks, especially if they have a different style; which a couple of our guys do have a different style.”
In a general statement about the position, Saban said, “I've been really pleased with all three of the quarterbacks that have taken some reps in practice. Jake has really done a good job of getting the ball out of his hands and seems to be more comfortable with the offense. Cooper Bateman is more athletic. Has really improved as a passer and done a really good job of executing. Alec is very, very comfortable in running the offense in terms of knowledge and experience and that type of thing.
“Those three guys have gotten the bulk of the reps and each day we'll have a quarter that they get so many reps based on what we would do if they get the opportunity to play in the game. That's how we're going to address this week.”
Saban did not reveal how the quarterbacks were splitting practice repetitions, but it is not a problem, he said. Asked if the three were getting equal reps in each practice, and if that was a difficult procedure, Saban said, “No, we haven't done it that way. And the way we've done it has not been difficult to manage. We're going to manage it internally. I'm hopeful that one of these guys does a great job.
“Look, I'm confident in these guys. I'm confident that they can play well in this game. And I just would like to see somebody win the team over, which may not happen until they play. When you have guys that haven't played before, I think that's always the case. But I like the attitude that we have on offense. I like the approach our players have. And I think our players have confidence in each one of what these guys can do well.”