football Edit

Bateman and Barnett top QB depth chart

Gary Cosby Jr. (Gary Cosby Jr.)

Nick Saban covered his eyes whenever Rohan Davey would throw passes during practice, but when game time rolled around the former LSU coach had full confidence in his quarterback.

Rightly so, since Davey threw for a school-record 3,347 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2001.

"I kind of like that," said Saban, now coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide. "Even though it was hard to take sometimes in practice, you knew the guy was going to always play well in the game, because he was that kind of competitor."

Now, 15 years later, Saban draws from that experience before naming UA’s lead quarterback.

Saban announced Monday that the competition is down to two competitors — Cooper Bateman and Blake Barnett — but the coach is still not revealing a final decision on who will start. Facts are missing; Saban doesn’t know how they’re going to perform in an actual game.

"I think it’s one thing to be in practice and see what they can do, but it’s another to see how they react in a game-like situation," offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher said. "It’ll be interesting to see how these guys compete, and I’m looking forward to it."

The deciding factor in the quarterback competition has really come down to experience. Bateman enters his third year with the Crimson Tide as a redshirt junior. Barnett enters his second as a redshirt freshman. The gap is not a large one. Neither is new to the team.

"I don’t think one guy can do anything that the other guy can’t do," senior tight end O.J. Howard said.

Bateman has one solid bonus over Barnett, though: He has actual game experience from last season, even recorded a start again Ole Miss, completing 71.2 percent of his passes with two interceptions.

The position will go to who not only knows the offense well, but works best with its artillery. With a receiving corps that includes Calvin Ridley, ArDarius Stewart and Robert Foster, Saban is looking for quarterback who will connect.

"Blake has really been an effective passer for us," Saban said, "so we want to continue to try and develop him and see where his knowledge and experience will take him relative to whether we feel like he can be a winning player at that position or not."

Don’t count out Jalen Hurts either. He may not have made the cut as one of the final two, but the true freshman is still listed on Alabama’s depth chart.

Saban believes Hurts has a tremendous future, but there were too many question marks surrounding him and how he’d handle being on the big stage.

"We are not giving up on that ability," Saban said. "Hopefully we’ll be able to develop it that at some point this season he’s going to be a productive player for us."

Until Alabama’s season opener against Southern Cal on Saturday rolls around, no decision is final. Even then, it’s still up in the air.

Right now, however, it’s either Bateman or Barnett. Hurts isn’t ready.

"That’s kind of where it is right now," Saban said. "There’s nothing really else to talk about. Nothing else to say."