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April 14, 2011TUSCALOOSA | The University of Alabama's annual A-Day game will maintain its usual format for all but the quarterback position.
UA coach Nick Saban typically places the first-team offense and the second-team defense on one team, while the first-team defense and second-team offense make up the other.
Quarterbacks A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims, however, appear on both squad rosters and will play Saturday for both teams.
In other words, not even the A-Day rosters provide a hint as to which of the two might be behind center for the Crimson Tide this fall.
"We have two quarterbacks here, both have had a really good spring, and both have played really well," Saban said. "Every time they have an opportunity to play, we'll see how they respond to that circumstance in that situation, just like we'll see how they play in this game."
McCarron, a third-year sophomore, has split practice repetitions evenly with Sims, a redshirt freshman, throughout spring drills. Although McCarron has been Alabama's No. 2 quarterback for the Tide's last 20 games, dating to midseason 2009, Saban has said McCarron's limited game experience does not give him the advantage.
In playing them on both A-Day teams, the UA staff will be able to evaluate the pair against both the first-team and second-team defenses.
Behind the second-team offensive line, snaps with the White squad could prove to be a more fiery test for both quarterbacks.
"That's why I want both of them to play with both teams, just to see how they respond to the situation," Saban said. "It's part of the overall evaluation. If they both respond well, then that's a good thing."
In two spring scrimmages, both quarterbacks have been impressive statistically, although scrimmages are heavily situational (two-minute drill, goal line, etc.), which can make conclusions more difficult to draw from statistics.
Safety Mark Barron, for one, isn't surprised McCarron has worked his way into the position of a potential starter as a sophomore. The two were high school teammates in Mobile at St. Paul's.
"From what I've seen, they're both doing a great job. They're both talented. They both have strong arms," Barron said. "To be honest with you, I'm surprised because A.J. and I played at the same high school, and coming in, I felt like he had the edge. But I've been observing and from what I've seen, both of them are very talented and good quarterbacks."
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com or at 205-722-0196.