Alabama has been a powerhouse of college football for over a decade, winning six national championships under head coach Nick Saban. One of the keys to their success has been their ability to produce elite quarterbacks, such as AJ McCarron, Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones, and most recently Bryce Young. However, in 2023, the Crimson Tide face a challenge that they have not faced in a long time: a quarterback competition.
All eyes were on this past weekend’s annual spring game, A-Day. While the scrimmage was exciting to watch, it did not provide a clear answer on who will be the signal caller in 2023. Let’s take a look at the options for Nick Saban and new offensive coordinator Tommy Rees.
Alabama’s Likeliest Options
After Bryce Young declared for the NFL draft earlier this year as the projected No. 1 overall pick, Alabama was left with four scholarship quarterbacks on the roster: Jalen Milroe, Ty Simpson, Dylan Lonergan and Eli Holstein. Milroe has the most experience out of them but made just one start in 2022 in a narrow win over Texas A&M. Simpson made two pass attempts all last season, both of which came in a Week One win over Utah State. This means that Saban and his staff need to evaluate the four quarterbacks based on their practice performance and potential.
The two frontrunners for the job are Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson. Milroe is a dual-threat quarterback who can make plays with his legs and his arm. He has a strong and accurate arm, but he needs to work on his consistency and decision-making. In the spring game, he led most drives for the white team (first-team offense), throwing for 245 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for a 35-yard touchdown on the opening drive.
Simpson is built like a pro-style quarterback who can also run when needed. He has a quick release and a good touch on his passes, but he needs to improve his deep ball accuracy and pocket awareness. He led most drives for the crimson team (second-team offense) in the A-Day game, throwing for 234 yards and one interception. He also ran for 58 yards on nine carries.
Both quarterbacks had some impressive moments and some mistakes in the spring game, but neither of them separated themselves from the other. Afterwards, Saban said that he wants them to improve their fundamentals and their ability to process information quickly. He also said that he is not ready to name a starter yet, and that the competition will continue into the summer and fall camp.
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The Freshman Options On The Roster
The other two quarterbacks, Dylan Lonergan and Eli Holstein, are not out of the picture either. They are both highly rated prospects who have great physical tools and upside.
During the A-Day game, Lonergan went four out of five passing for 59 yards in the first half but completed just half of his passes in the second half taking two sacks. Holstein struggled in the game. He completed three of his six passes for 61 yards, took two sacks, and threw one interception.
Neither of these two freshmen are expected to be starters in September but are the future in Tuscaloosa. With continued practice time and end-of-game action during the season, they will get the reps they need, but it will take time.
Alabama’s quarterback competition is one of the most intriguing storylines in all of college football this year. Whoever wins the job will have big shoes to fill, but also a lot of talent around him. The Crimson Tide have one of country’s best rosters with elite players at every position. The quarterback will also have the benefit of playing for the greatest coach in college football history, Nick Saban. It’ll be interesting to see how the quarterback competition unfolds as the offseason continues.
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