Alabama Football: Quarterback competition starts on Monday

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /

For Alabama football fans, there is no more sizzle to a spring than a quarterback competition. When there is one, fans often turn it into a quarterback controversy. Will that happen again this spring? And if so, how far will it linger into the fall? These questions and others are on the minds of Crimson Tide fans.

Based on experience in the Alabama football program, Jalen Milroe should be and probably is the leader going into spring practice. Making it especially difficult for Milroe are the histories of the recent Crimson Tide quarterbacks. Milroe’s potential gets measured against Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones and Bryce Young. The comparisons are unfair.

The Crimson Tide’s last four starting QBs have averaged passing for over 6,800 yards in their Alabama careers. Bryce Young threw for 8,356 yards in basically two seasons. Tua threw 87 touchdown passes in a not-long career as the Alabama starter. Mac completed 74% of his passes. Jalen had over 5,600 passing yards and almost 2,000 rushing yards.

In 12 games over 12 seasons, Jalen Milroe has thrown 34 passes, completing 12, for 338 yards. His accuracy of 57% causes concern. Balanced against that is Milroe has rushed for a 7-yard average and 322 yards. Almost all of Milroe’s college playing experience has been in a backup role. Subbing for an injured Bryce last season, against Arkansas and Texas A&M, Milroe gained mixed reviews. He ran the ball impressively against Arkansas and passed acceptably. In his lone start the following week, Milroe also put up some good numbers. But in the A&M game, an interception and two lost fumbles suggested Milroe was lacking in composure.

Alabama Football and Spring QB Competition

Jalen Milroe should go into spring as the leader. Ty Simpson played sparingly last season in mop-up duty. The Tide’s other scholarship QBs, Eli Holstein and Dylan Lonergan are true freshmen.

With a new Offensive Coordinator, Milroe’s extra experience may not provide much of an advantage. Tommy Rees will rate all four Tide quarterbacks with a clean sheet. Neither of the freshmen can be expected to make a spring move. That is not because of a lack of talent, but because the spring provides limited time to stand out. Summer 7v7 drills and fall camp will give Holstein or Lonergan the most opportunity to gain an advantage as QB3.

What will happen between Milroe and Simpson cannot be predicted. There are many factors and with a new OC, it is unlikely a clear starter will be identified this spring. Crimson Tide fans wonder if there might be different packages for Milroe and Simpson, allowing both to be used in certain games. A guess is that is possible but not probable.

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Nick Saban always says the players choose the Tide’s starting QB. That is more true than not, but it is also not so simple. In a season of change for Alabama football, the Crimson Tide has spring practice, summer drills, fall camp, and one regular season game for a new QB1 to take command.