Alabama football: The importance of QB4 and who it will be

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Alabama football will have a quarterback competition in 2020. Three guys behind Mac Jones must be developed and QB3 and QB4 are important roles.

Many Alabama football fans yearn for a quarterback battle between Mac Jones and freshman, Bryce Young. Young will get a chance to win the starting role. At least in the early weeks of next season, he is unlikely to beat out Mac Jones. Nick Saban will opt for experience unless Bryce is the far better QB during fall camp scrimmages.

Nearly as important to 2020 success will be the development of QB3 and QB4. Fall camp will begin with Jones as QB1, followed by Bryce Young and Paul Tyson competing for the backup role. Assuming Young wins that competition, Tyson will QB3.

History shows how much QB4 could matter in one or more games. During Mike Shula’s first Tide, head coaching season in 2003, the team started far better than it finished. An opening win over South Florida was followed by a seven-point loss to then No. 1 ranked Oklahoma. Game three gave the Crimson Tide its third win by beating Kentucky.

Next came a shocking loss to Northern Illinois in Tuscaloosa. Two more losses followed, at the hands of Arkansas and Georgia. Game six for the Crimson Tide was Southern Miss (USM). The 2-4 Crimson Tide badly needed a win over the Golden Eagles. Injuries meant neither starting QB, Brodie Croyle or backup Spencer Pennington could play.

Next up for the Crimson Tide was Brandon Avalos. Avalos played much of the second half in the prior week’s loss to Georgia. Against the Bulldogs, Avalos three eight passes in 21 snaps. He completed two – for six yards. Behind Avalos was non-scholarship, scout team QB, Michael Machan.

The Crimson Tide prevailed against USM, 17-3. Defense and the Crimson Tide rushing attack saved the day. Shaud Williams rushed for 170 yards. The Tide defense gave up only 17 yards on 35 USM rushing attempts. Avalos’ best sport was baseball in high school. As a QB, his best attribute was running. Against USM he had three carries for minus-2 yards. He threw seven passes, completing three for 12 yards. His Passing Efficiency Rating(PER) for the game was 28.7.

Though less than 20 years ago, football is not played the same as in 2003. Football teams, even those with a talent advantage cannot win games when the starting QB has a PER of 28.

What does this extreme example from 2003 have to do with the 2020 season? Follow a simple hypothetical. QB1 misses one or more games from injury – and QB2 also is physically unable to play. QB3 becomes QB1 to finish or start a game. One play behind the new QB1, is QB4.

Think of that scenario if the opponent is Georgia, LSU, Auburn, even Texas A&M. A pivotal game in the season could come down to how well the original QB3 and possibly QB4 perform.

Who would be a QB4 Nick Saban could rely on? There is no clear answer. It is possible a transfer could be added, but almost no players choose a transfer option with a limited chance of playing time. The three best prospects on the current roster are junior, redshirt, Chadarius Townsend, redshirt sophomore, Slade Bolden and incoming freshman, Kristian Story. All three played at least some quarterback in high school.

Bolden is more of a running threat. Townsend has been at running back and wide receiver during his three Alabama football seasons. In high school, he was a dual-threat QB. So was, Kristian Story. All three have the physical tools to play QB. Based on just athletic ability, Story has the greatest chance to both run and throw effectively.

Who will it be? Until fall camp, not even Nick Saban knows.

dark. Next. Crimson Tide needs Mac Jones to be the starter

A current best guess is Alabama football will enter fall camp with Mac at QB1, Young OR Tyson at QB 2, followed by Kristian Story. Some play packages will be designed around the strengths of Slade Bolden and Chadius Townsend, should they be needed.