Not A News Flash: GMac Will Be QB

Stop me if you've heard this one. The back-up Alabama quarterback is better than the starter. A very interesting post making the rounds on the Internet makes a number of excellent observations about Crimson Tide summer workouts and personnel. It does seem that a quarterback controversy could be in Bama's future.

No one doubts that the post was made by a high school coach who works in the Alabama summer football camps and thus has the opportunity to watch off-season work by Bama players. Also, no one doubts his expertise.

One reason Alabama football has always been so good is because the Tide program is built around players from the high schools of Alabama. High school football coaches in this state are very knowledgeable.

One part of the long list of observations that is interesting is the coach's note that, "I have no idea how GMAC is the starter over AJ."

But, of course, the coach does have an idea, and he explains it later in the post.

Greg McElroy is the starter. The coach post doesn't need to remind us that McElroy is 14-0 as Bama's quarterback and was Most Valuable Player in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game and directed a gutsy final drive to beat Auburn in Auburn and keep the national championship season alive.

A.J. McCarron is the back-up. The coach post points out that "AJ throws TD after TD after TD in 7on7s." He adds that he likes McElroy, but that McCarron has better ability to stretch the field, and, in his opinion, "It's not even close."

And, the coach said, the opinion was not just his. He said that a handful of other coaches working the camps and having the opportunity to watch Bama workouts were in agreement that McCarron has more passing ability.

That is the book on McElroy, the 6-2, 225-pound senior. Not a big league arm. But McElroy, who earned his degree before the start of his junior season, managed to complete 198 of 325 pass attempts (60.9 per cent) for 2,508 yards with 17 touchdowns and only four interceptions.

More than that are the other aspects of quarterbacking Alabama in 2010. Foremost is McElroy's experience and his leadership qualities. There is much more to being a quarterback than the ability to throw the football long and accurately (though that ability is certainly a plus). Additionally, Coach Nick Saban and Offensive Coordinator Jim McElwain look at the big picture. As the high school coach pointed out, Alabama is likely to be a "run first" team with Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, backed by Trent Richardson, at tailback.

Nevertheless, Alabama fans got a glimpse of the future at quarterback in spring practice.

The Tide came out of the spring with four highly-regarded quarterbacks. Since then, Star Jackson has transferred to Georgia State.

McCarron, a 6-4, 190-pound redshirt freshman was in some ways the top quarterback in the A-Day Game. He had the most yards passing, 196 yards, with two touchdowns. And most can probably remember only one play...the "overtime" 39-yard pass to Brandon Gibson that broke the tie.

McCarron also was in the news late last fall when Saban was asked who would be the quarterback if something happened to McElroy. Most expected the coach to name Jackson, but the answer was McCarron, even though he had not played and was near the end of a redshirt season.

The real quarterback controversy is liable to come next spring. That's when McCarron and true freshman Phillip Sims will begin the battle to replace McElroy for the 2011 season Sims, 6-2, 214, entered Alabama last January and went through the off-season and spring drills. Though he was obviously behind the other quarterbacks in familiarity with the offense, he showed he has very, very good skills.

In these days of what Saban would refer to as "instant gratification" it will be a challenge to keep them both in a one-quarterback system.

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