The Alabama football starting QB competition may last all season but now, Bryce Young has one more scrimmage to beat out Mac Jones.
Saturday, Sept. 12 is a big day for Alabama football players. It will be the last fall camp scrimmage to earn two-deep positions. For rotational players at defensive line, linebacker, running back and wide receiver it means less. Lots of guys will play at those positions.
For Crimson Tide quarterbacks, Saturday is the most important day until the season-opener on Sept. 26. Nick Saban may not announce all his starters until game week or even later. Continued use of ‘or’ can be expected.
The odds are very high Nick Saban and Steve Sarkisian have already decided the Missouri starter will be Mac Jones. If not, Saban will not wait until Monday, Sept. 21 to make up his mind. That leaves this Saturday’s scrimmage as the last fall camp opportunity for Bryce Young to gain the first game start. Another wrinkle for Saturday is the widespread speculation Alex Leatherwood will not participate. According to the most prevalent rumor, Leatherwood is in quarantine. With Chris Owens still not available, Landon Dickerson is expected to be at center. Two or three guys may get a look at left tackle.
On quarantines, Alabama football makes no official statements. Perhaps that will change once the regular season begins. Otherwise, every Crimson Tide message board and social media site favored by Tide fans will be filled with unconfirmed rumors throughout the season.
If there were an ebb and flow story to the starting QB competition, it would state Mac Jones was a bit off in the first scrimmage. In the more recent, simulated game session, Jones is reported to have done well.
Though no coach has told him, Mac Jones recently acknowledged he is confident in what he and his teammates can do. Don’t forget, what Nick Saban values most in a QB is leadership and consistency. If ESPN is correct, the starting Tide QB will be surrounded by All-Americans. Mostly Mac’s focus will be getting the ball to multiple playmakers at the right time. He does not have to also be an All-American.
Explaining his confidence, Mac Jones said,
"I would just say it goes back to my teammates. I have a good bond with my teammates, and I think those guys trust me. Hopefully I can earn their respect every day.Coach is going to put the best player out there. I’ve learned it over the years, and I’ll continue to try and be the best teammate and player I can be."
We suspect Mac is correct. The Alabama Crimson Tide offensive players may already respect Bryce Young for his talents. Trust, however, must be earned in battle. Jones has enough experience to have gained teammates’ trust. Bryce Young has not.
In this most unusual season, three QBs must be ready to step in at any time. Mac starting against Missou cannot deprive Bryce Young of meaningful snaps. Paul Tyson, who has reportedly made significant improvement, also needs more than mop-up snaps.
Unless Saturday’s scrimmage includes Bryce clicking and Mac struggling, Jones will open the season as the guy. Don’t be surprised if Tyson gets nearly as many early snaps as Young. The two guys who already know how to make a third or fourth read are Mac and Tyson. Bryce Young, while mobile and elusive, is still a one or two read QB. He will catch up but when is not known.
Alabama football fans and the Crimson Tide staff are high on Bryce. They are not wrong. But Nick Saban’s history shows he values steady more than flash. The freshman likely needs more time to reach a Saban level of ‘steady.’
Crimson Tide fans may have noticed Nick, Sark and numerous players have spoken highly of all three quarterbacks. Consistency of message is a big part of Nick’s ‘Process.’ Coaches and players might occasionally have favorites but such preferences do not become public knowledge.