Oct 5, 2013; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Blake Sims (6) rolls out looking for a receiver against the Georgia State Panthers during the second quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

14 Till 14: Five Alabama Position Battles to Watch

This time next week, we’ll be dissecting everything Alabama. Be prepared for the hot takes, for the angry radio callers, but most importantly prepare for the last five days of this series.

Today we’re going to take a look at five positional battles to watch throughout the season. With a new depth chart being released today  (thanks for the read Josh) we can now let the depth chart controversy begin.

5. Reuben Foster vs The Inside Linebackers

We all know about Foster, even if you haven’t seen him on the field. The former Auburn commit, the guy with the Auburn tattoo; you know, the Alabama linebacker?

He’s here now, and had a solid season last year despite the lack in playing time. On the depth chart today he was listed second string at both Mike (Trey DePriest) and Will (Reggie Ragland).

What’s interesting here is Foster is possibly the biggest hitter on the team, and has a nose for the ball. Literally. He will charge at the ball carrier and gives no cares about what happens. He’s knocked himself out of practice before and has even had some concussion issues in the past.

If you’ve seen The Replacements, the tolerable Keanu Reeves movie not counting the Matrix, he’s the linebacker who was SWAT. Foster looks in line to be given a lot of playing time, but if he starts to outplay DePriest or even Ragland, he could become a two-down player and come out plays that require pass coverage.

4. Alphonse Taylor vs Leon Brown

Every other spot on the offensive line is seemingly locked up. Cam Robinson is holding down the left tackle spot, so really, the right guard spot is the only position under question at this point. Brown was penciled in as the starting right guard during Spring practice, but a foot injury sidelined him for parts of Fall camp, which opened the door for Taylor, the former defensive lineman who made the position change two years ago.

This will be a position battle throughout the season, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brown regain his starting role by the time the Florida game rolls around. If there is a slip up for either on the field, Saban could make the flip.

3. Geno Smith vs Himself?

One of my former favorite recruits for his active recruiting on twitter and during visits, Geno Smith just hasn’t put it together yet. Recruited as a highly-touted cornerback from Georgia, Smith made the switch to free safety last season and was projected to be starting this year. A sprain in practice a while back limited Smith, who now has to regain his spot from Nick Perry at free safety. And if that’s not enough, he may have lost his spot at Alabama’s special Star position to Jarrick Williams.

Smith is a very talented player who I thought would have been starting now, but for his annual trip to the dog house last season, the DUI last Fall, and now potentially getting lost in the shuffle. Have to start wondering if Smith is going to make his leap or not.

2. The Cornerback Battle Royale 

Looking over the depth chart, there is only one position I see that will be drastically different in about 4-5 weeks from now. You guessed it, cornerback.

Bradley Sylve and Cyrus Jones have made very nice progressions this off season and I feel more confident with them now than at any point last season, but the talent behind them is ridiculous. Eddie Jackson is progressing remarkably from his knee injury suffered in the Spring. When fully healthy, he’ll be starting. Then you have Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey, two of the top players at their position; both surging up the depth chart. Brown benefits from enrolling early and participating in Spring practice. So he’s the favorite to start before Humphrey. By the end of the year I’m fully expecting to see Jackson and Brown in the line up with Humphrey waiting in the wings.

1. Ha ha, Like It Wouldn’t Be Quarterback

Another day goes by, and another day everyone’s question won’t be answered. Who will be Alabama’s starting quarterback?

I made the case for Coker in the very first edition of this series. But at this point just give me the guy who the rest of the team is most comfortable with. Alabama obviously doesn’t need a guy to put up Bryce Petty numbers or carry the team like Jameis Winston carried FSU. Just manage the game well, don’t turn over the ball too much and put the ball in the hands of the athletes.

Alabama has had much success with this type of player before; just look at Greg McElroy. Obviously Blake Sims and Jacob Coker are more physically imposing, but the role is still the same. Every time I make up my mind on who I think will start, a report comes out and counters my beliefs. Right now I think Sims will be starter, so go ahead and lock down Coker as the guy.

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