There is an old saying about Alabama football that the most popular player for fans is the backup QB. It is even more true when the backup has yet to enter a contest in the heat of battle.
Quarterback competitions bring value. The cream rising to the top is common. When no QB has separated himself by performance, quarterback controversies simmer. Alabama has had one since last spring. It has continued into the fall. So far, it appears to have engaged only Alabama football fans, with no adverse impact on players.
As I wrote a few days ago, the best prediction of QB1 for the MTSU game, is Alabama’s only third-year QB, Jalen Milroe. I added that could possibly change during the Tide’s last scrimmage of fall camp.
None of us know what will happen on Saturday. But unlike, the first, closed scrimmage, a good bit of observer opinion will seep out.
What Alabama Football is seeking
Nick Saban, Tommy Rees and Crimson Tide offensive players want a guy to so clearly stand out, the QB1 choice is simple. There is no doubt many of the players are rooting for Jalen Milroe. That does not automatically mean they are rooting against the Tide’s other quarterbacks.
Crimson Tide offensive lineman, Tyler Booker recently said he is still waiting on one of the QBs to show ‘that’ look.
"… that look that you get whenever we’re in the huddle … that’s real. Like Bryce had that look. Bryce made you feel comfortable. Bryce made you feel like, ‘OK, we’re gonna win this game because Bryce is back there.’ And I’m just looking for whoever in that room gives me that look. We haven’t seen it yet …"
Waiting for the next Bryce to manifest could lead to disappointment. Currently, and possibly for a long time to come, there will be no Bryce Young trotting on the field for the Crimson Tide.
What might happen in Saturday’s scrimmage
What many Crimson Tide fans want to happen on Saturday is for freshman, Dylan Lonergan to get a true test against the Alabama first-unit defenders, and do it with first-unit offensive players. How much Lonergan has already worked against the ‘ones’ is not known. To the extent he has, his offensive line was probably second-unit guys.
There are Alabama fans who are optimistic, Lonergan with the ‘ones’, against the ‘ones’ could open a door to a QB2 slot for the freshman. If that door opens because Lonergan rises to the opportunity, the entire Alabama quarterback room will be impacted.
Lonergan was a highly rated 4-Star in the 2023 class. Averaged from the top four recruiting sites, he was a top 10 QB in the class. As a baseball player, he has a 90-plus mph fastball, which correlates to a strong-armed QB.
In recent days the buzz about Lonergan is he has the best package of quarterbacking talents among the Tide’s QBs.
One possible scenario is that on Saturday, Lonergan does well enough to move past Tyler Buchner and into contention with Ty Simpson for QB2. If that happens, Alabama fans will fuel a quarterback controversy with claims Lonergan will make a move to QB1 before the end of the 2023 season.
Nick Saban has no interest in or concern about QB controversies. Saban will go with the best player. Like Tyler Booker, seeing a quarterback with ‘that look’ will influence Nick Saban as well.