Alabama is considered by most the heavy favorite to win the SEC again this year and by many to win their second National Championship in three years. A stingy defense and a heavy dose of Trent Richardson are the main reasons behind this line of thinking. The one thing that people keep questioning about the team, however, is its quarterback situation. Some people bring up the fact that Bama won the title in ’09 with a first year starter in Greg McElroy but keep in mind that he was a Rhodes Scholar and a guy perfectly suited to “manage” Saban’s offense.
Will the starter against Kent State be the slightly more experienced AJ McCarron or the up and comer Phillip Sims? Even Nick Saban may not know the answer to that question at this point.
The word on Bryant Drive is that going into fall camp, the two quarterbacks are still pretty much neck and neck fighting it out for the starting position. Saban has even gone as far as to say that he is not opposed to using a two quarterback system this upcoming season. LSU tried that approach with Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee for much of the last two seasons with limited success and no successful attempts at a two QB system really come to mind.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the guys battling it out to be under center come September 3:
One of the biggest things that McCarron has in his favor is that he has already seen some playing time in the past, whether it be in mop up duty or because Greg McElroy was hurt (think ’10 Iron Bowl). But are those experiences really all that valuable? In the instance of the 2010 Iron Bowl, McCarron was thrust into an extremely volatile situation as the team was handing over a 24-0 lead and the offensive line was offering very little protection. Coming in during mop up time was probably less than beneficial, as well.
In addition to having a strong arm, McCarron obviously has the slight advantage in experience, as well as an awesome chest tattoo and the type of haircut that you imagine an Alabama quarterback to have. On the negative side, he isn’t very quick on his feet and has accuracy issues.
Sims has created a lot of hype without really having done anything at Alabama yet. If you had asked an Alabama fan a year ago who would be the starting QB in 2011, without hesitation most of them would have replied with AJ McCarron but Sims has forced himself into the discussion with his potential and ability to move outside the pocket more effectively than McCarron. His arm is not as strong as McCarron’s but he is considered a more accurate passer.
My prediction is that when the game against Kent State rolls around you’ll be seeing McCarron start out under center. Ultimately, my guess is that Saban will be more comfortable with the slightly more experienced McCarron than with Sims. However, don’t be surprised at all, if at the first sign of trouble you see Saban yank McCarron out of a game and go with Sims. Saban is looking for a game manager and not necessarily a play-maker to run the offense, especially as long as Trent Richardson is healthy and capable of carrying the offense. Whichever QB shows the greatest ability to minimize mistakes will be the one that gets the most snaps this season in Tuscaloosa.