Alabama Doesn’t Need an Elite Quarterback


Apr 18, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Chris Black (1) carries the ball for the white team as Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Maurice Smith (21) of the crimson team grabs him during the annual A-day game at Bryant Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

My first post to is brought to you by the number 99, as in 99 days left until the 2015 FBS college football season kicks off, so that gives us 99 days to break down Alabama football (technically 101, but you get the idea). I know 14 weeks is a long time to wait, but be patient my child, and we’ll soon see that yes, we’ve got 99 problems, but a quarterback ain’t one. Hit me!

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  • So who exactly will be the starting quarterback for the Tide next season? It’s looking evermore like Braxton Miller may not be transferring to Tuscaloosa, so Nick Saban had better be comfortable with Jacob Coker or David Cornwell taking snaps. I know we’ve all heard that in order for Alabama to win a national championship, they need an elite signal caller under center (“under center?” Does that term even mean anything in this day and age of football?), but I’m not sold on that idea just yet.

    No offense to one of my favorite Alabama quarterbacks of all time, but current SEC Network analyst Greg McElroy won a national championship for the Tide, and while he played a few games in the NFL, he isn’t what one would call an “elite quarterback.” Collective talent is what wins championships, and there exists no argument that anyone can muster that will convince me that some other team has more than the Crimson Tide this year. When this next season kicks off and the final rosters are ready, there will not be a single [scholarship] player on Alabama’s roster that, get this – wasn’t a part of a top ranked recruiting class.

    Let that sink in for a minute.

    Yeah, on paper, this could possibly be the best amount of collective talent that has ever been on one team in college football history. Remind me again how it’s not possible to win without a top-tier quarterback?

    Braxton Miller would be a nice addition. I won’t lie, give me a choice between all the current options, I’ll go with Miller. However, I know that he isn’t the most important cog in Nick Saban’s 2015 machine. He’s recruited and finally developed his nearly perfect defense, basically having two separate units capable of either playing against ground-and-pound teams (like Arkansas and Wisconsin) and also against spread/finesse/uptempo teams (like Auburn, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M).

    Apr 18, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Gray Team quarterback Braxton Miller (5) reacts to the fans during the Ohio Spring Game at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    And have we all just forgotten about the stable of running backs and skill players on the offensive side of the ball? Derrick Henry (a.k.a. “El Tractorcito”), Kenyon Drake, Chris Black, Cam Sims, O.J. Howard and the list of four and five star players goes on and on and on. Sure, experience may be an issue, but let’s be honest with ourselves, talent trumps experience more often than not. Plus, we all know that the offensive line play will be well above average, at least in run blocking, so the only question that arises is how well can they pass block? I guess we’ll all see come September 5.

    But the reality of the situation is simply this: a team doesn’t need an elite quarterback to win a national championship. Is it nice? Well duh, it does help, there’s no question about that. I’m sure Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw were as giddy as a bunch of school girls about having the opportunity to coach Andrew Luck at Stanford. However, when you have the sheer amount of talent throughout the entire roster that Saban has at Alabama, it’s relatively easy to make up some slight deficiencies that may pop up in some places, and more specifically in the Tide’s case, at the quarterback position.

    Yes, I know the past four national champion quarterbacks have been considered as top-tier players (I’m counting J.T. Barrett and not Cardale Jones, because no one is still sure how good he really is, and whether or not he’ll even play over either Braxton Miller or Barrett next season for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Plus, Barrett led the team throughout the regular season before going down with his season-ending ankle injury): Cam Newton, A.J. McCarron, and Jameis Winston were all Heisman finalists, with Newton and Winston winning the most prestigious award in college football. But we all know that they didn’t win the championship all on their own. They relied on some serious help from other talented players.

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Miller doesn’t transfer to Alabama. Whether it be Cornwell, Coker, freshman Blake Barnett, or whoever, you’ve got to think that Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will make the correct decision to play the quarterback who will make the fewest mistakes. I personally think it will be Cornwell, but that’s neither here nor there. Whoever the signal caller is, all he’ll need to do is be exceptional at handing off the ball to Henry and Drake, and also be good at throwing the quick bubble screens to his playmakers outside, like Blake Sims was able to do last season with Amari Cooper. It could be an exceptional athlete like Braxton Miller, or it could be a little pipsqueak like myself. As long as he can relay the playcalls and not turn the ball over, Bama’s 2015 mystery quarterback will be just fine.