In winning the 2013 BCS National Championship, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron became the first passer in college football history to win two titles in the BCS era. This, of course, after he led the nation in passer rating with a studly 175.3 mark.
Despite what is widely perceived as a weak draft class at quarterback, McCarron decided to put aside his dreams of playing professionally for one more year. Instead of moving onto the next level, he chose to stay home on the Tuscaloosa campus and go for a third national title as a senior for the Tide.
Thus, coach Nick Saban and his staff were spared the hassle of finding a replacement field general for one more season.
But that doesn’t mean they have not begun to prepare for life in the post-McCarron era. Spring practices have helped the team’s coaches sift through the rest of the quarterbacks on the roster.
“Alec Morris looked better than any of six quarterbacks not named AJ McCarron (during the spring game),” Don Kausler Jr. of Al.com wrote. “He clearly has moved ahead of Phillip Ely, a rising third-year sophomore. So who will back up McCarron this fall? Stay tuned. Sims and Morris will battle in August. It’s highly unlikely that any of the three early enrollees will play this fall, and that will handicap heralded signee Cooper Bateman, Parker McLeod and invited walk-on Luke Del Rio when the 2014 battle begins.”
Alex Scarborough of ESPN explains in further detail:
“(Alabama head coach Nick) Saban, who watched on as Blake Sims, Phillip Ely, Alec Morris and his three freshmen quarterbacks combined for no touchdowns and four interceptions on 52.5-percent passing (during A-day), wasn’t pleased with the effort.
Morris, who started off hot with a well-placed pass to DeAndrew White that gained 30-plus yards, didn’t finish strong. He threw an interception, coughed up a fumble and was generally out of whack on a few series. Saban could be heard chastising his redshirt freshman for having the offense out of formation on two plays in a row.
Nonetheless, Morris was the most impressive in terms of talent and production. He completed the most passes among backup quarterbacks and appeared to be the most ready to take the reins from McCarron.
It didn’t help that Sims, last year’s backup along with Ely, wasn’t sharp during the scrimmage, completing just 5 of 10 passes for 52 yards and no touchdowns. Being in a black no-contact jersey kept him from running, but there was no accounting for two poorly placed interceptions, one that was nothing more than a desperate heave to the sidelines that fell into the waiting arms of a defensive back.”
There is enough talent on this roster, year in and year out, that Saban has proven he can compete for titles with only a so-called “game manager” at the position.
With more than enough quarterbacks — six is an extremely high number for any program — to choose from on the roster, it sounds like Saban will at least find his “game manager” for 2014.
Don’t be surprised, however, if he finds another McCarron.