On Monday, the official Alabama Football depth chart listed four cornerbacks but no starters. Crimson Tide fans are not anxious about the starting corners for the Utah State game but are more than curious about which two will get the first nod.
Utah State has an excellent passer in QB, Logan Bonner. Bonner is in his sixth college football season. In his last three seasons, plus one game (the Utah State opening win over UConn) he has passed for nearly 7,000 yards. He passed for 3,672 yards in 2021 earning him a spot on the 2022 Maxwell Award Watch List.
Can Bonner light up the Alabama Crimson Tide secondary? To do so will require staying upright against what is expected to be a ferocious Alabama football pass rush. Though Bonner was highly productive in 2021, he also threw 12 interceptions. Worse for Bonner and the Aggies’ offense is only one of his top four receivers from last season returns. With quick throws and when given time for receivers to run longer routes, Bonner can be a challenge for the new Alabama Crimson Tide secondary.
But even when Bonner is not hurried, Alabama pass defenders and their ability to apply tight coverage could lead to interceptions on Saturday night.
Alabama football coach, Nick Saban does not rotate cornerbacks. That might change against the Aggies. While not likely to be a classic rotation, all four of the Tide’s corners may get chances with the first unit. If so, who starts Saturday night might not be the starters on the following Saturday in Austin.
Alabama Football Cornerback Competition
Both Khyree Jackson (groin) and Eli Ricks (back) have had injury problems in fall camp. Jackson is believed to be at or near 100%. While Ricks’ back may have recovered, he may not be back to game speed. The pair has practiced this week and one or both of them could start against Utah State.
The cornerback getting the most buzz in fall camp was Terrion Arnold. Speaking about Arnold, Nick Saban said,
"He’s played with a lot of consistency. He’s got a lot more confidence now. I think he’s a lot more comfortable with what he’s supposed to do, how he’s supposed to do it, why he’s supposed to do it that way. He’s played really well all fall camp."
There were times last season when Crimson Tide cornerbacks struggled with consistency. Elaborating Nick Saban said,
"… consistency in performance is really, really important at that position because you’ve got to be able to stay focused and stay on your game, even though you may only get challenged five or six plays in the game."
Defensive teammates Jordan Battle and Will Anderson Jr. have praised the progress Terrion Arnold has made. The Tide’s defensive leaders have also lauded the progress of Kool-Aid McKinstry, along with Jackson and Ricks.
Alabama football fans can feel good about the Tide’s corners. The winner of the starter competitions will have beaten out some very good players.