Crimson Tide Football Positional Analysis: Quarterbacks (via Crimson Magazine)

By Stan J. Griffin: July 5, 2016

Author's Note:  This is the first installment of a multi-part series, detailing the position groups for the 2016 Alabama football team. The first part will discuss the still-ongoing Crimson Tide quarterback battle.

As has been the case entering the last two years, Nick Saban's University of Alabama team will enter the 2016 season with a largely unproven individual behind center at the always-critical quarterback position.
And while that has caused sheer pandemonium and myriad conniption fits with Alabama fans in the past, I really am not sensing much of that with the Crimson Tide Nation as we inch closer to SEC Media Days and the start of fall practice.
Part of that is due to the wizardry of Tide offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and the amazing work he did with first-year starters Blake Sims and Jake Coker the last two seasons. The success of those two signal callers is a big reason why Alabama won 26 games the last two years, including back-to back SEC titles, made two trips to the College Football Playoffs and captured its 16th national championship last season.
Another reason for the absence of teeth gnashing is the fact that the 2016 Alabama team will most likely have another very strong defense, as well as a solid ground game at the very least, once again, meaning that whoever earns the starting quarterback position will not have to be especially prolific in terms of his stats. As Saban has stated numerous time over the past three seasons in regards to his starter, that individual simply needs to "win the team," be an efficient game manager and he needs to avoid making the pivotal mistakes.

 

With that being said, here is a look at the challengers who will likely emerge as the main candidates for the 2016 Tide quarterback job.

COOPER BATEMAN, 6-foot-3, 224 lbs, junior:  Will enter fall practice as the early favorite to land the starting nod by virtue of his being the only quarterback on the Alabama roster with any significant game experience.  Of course he started the Tide's game against Ole Miss last season, completing 11 of 14 passes for 87 yards and an interception before being pulled in favor of Coker in the Tide's only loss of the 2015 season. Overall in his seven appearances last season he completed 37 of 52 aerial attempts for 291 yards with two picks and a touchdown.

BLAKE BARNETT, 6-foot-5, 200 lbs, freshman: Much like sophomore tailback Bo Scarbrough, Barnett has already captured the imagination of many Tide fans, and has been the subject of much hype even though he has yet to make any significant contribution to the fortunes of Saban's team. Unlike Scarbrough, however, Barnett has yet to contribute at all in an official game as he was redshirted last season and had mixed results during this spring's A Day Game. No one has ever questioned his arm, and he was a consensus five-star prep prospect, but he may still need to get a bit bigger and he has also been turnover-prone on occasion.

DAVID CORNWELL, 6-foot-5, 234 lbs, sophomore: Was redshirted during his freshman year and did not see any action last year although he appeared to be a prominent candidate for last year's starting role during a strong spring. Was one of the top pro-style quarterbacks in the country as a prep standout in Norman, Oklahoma, and had a fairly impressive A Day game performance this spring.

OUR VIEW: Saban has traditionally given the nod to the quarterback with the most experience, much like he did with Sims in 2014 and with Coker last season, although even he may still be second-guessing his decision to start Bateman against the Rebels in 2015. Freshman Jalen Hurts is a wild card who has already contributed to the Crimson Tide by helping Alabama prepare for Clemson in January's national championship game, and he showed a good arm and nifty legs in the spring game. My guess, however, is that he will be redshirted this season. So the feeling here for myself and most of the other media types is that Bateman begins the season in the starting role, but if it is indicative early that he cannot get the job done and move the offense consistently, I doubt Saban will hesitate to give a shot to Cornwell or possibly even Barnett considering his array of talents and the potential he brings.

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Stan J Griffin

I am a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where I currently reside and work. I am doing regular sports and feature writing for the Tuscaloosa-based Druid City Living and also am the Alabama beat writer for Crimson Magazine. I am a 1993 graduate of the University of Alabama, where I wrote for The Crimson White. I have an extensive background in newspaper journalism, having served as a sports editor and reporter for the Delta Democrat Times, St. Clair News-Aegis, Andalusia Star-News and the St. Clair County News.

I also have my own sports blog site, The Sports Connection, which I partner on with a friend of mine, and we began this site in November of 2012. I write blog on a variety of sports subject, and have also had guest contributors write their own blogs for the site. I have interviewed prominent sports figures for the site, including Paul Finebaum of the new SEC Network.

Website: www.linkedin.com/in/stan-griffin-10506923

Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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