01 March 2010
We’ll start where most football conversations start – with the quarterback.
First and foremost, let’s just get this out of the way up front… Greg McElroy will be the starting quarterback for
Why am I so certain? Well, Greg’s 2009 season was, simply put, the best ever for a quarterback in the history of
Read that again.
Not only did Greg lead Bama to a 14-0 record and a national championship, but his individual numbers were also record breaking.
He threw just four interceptions in his 325 pass attempts – that’s one for every 80 attempts, or a percentage of 1.2%. The school record for lowest interception percentage had been 1.5%, set by Pat Trammell in 1961. When you start breaking Trammell’s records for game management, you’ve accomplished quite a lot.
He completed 60.9% of his passes, which ends up being fourth in school history with a minimum of 100 completions. He ended the year with 198 completions, and had he managed just two more, he would have actually set the school record for a minimum of 200 completions – 60.5% by Gary Hollingsworth in 1989. Anyone who watched Bama play knows Greg had way more than two passes dropped, so this is a record that he should own.
His 2,508 yards are the third most in school history, despite the fact that his 325 attempts are just the sixth most in history. To put that into perspective, the school record for yards is 2,846 by John Parker Wilson in 2007 when he also set the record for attempts with 462. It took
His 17 touchdowns tie for the second most in school history, just one behind John Parker Wilson’s 18 in 2007. Give Greg a few more possessions against foes like
Greg managed to pass or run 379 times, and he turned the ball over five times. Bama was fourth in the nation in turnover margin, and this was one of the main reasons. He protected the ball.
Don’t zone into the idea of him just being a “game manager” either. When Bama needed him the most, he was at his best. Against LSU he was 19-34 for 276 yards. In the SEC Championship Game he was 12-18 for 239 yards and also had a couple of the most impressive runs we saw from anyone wearing Crimson in 2009.
Throw all of that out, though, because the first thing I mentioned is the big one. Greg is 14-0 in his career as the starting quarterback at
But Greg is a senior in 2010, and that means that the backup quarterback will be the leading candidate to take the reigns of the Tide offense in 2011. That battle should be a fierce one. Here are the candidates:
I list Star first here because he is the most experienced. It’s not tough to be that when your competition is two guys who have never taken a snap in college football, but the fact remains that Star has that distinction. I don’t think that experience will do anything to earn him the job, other than possibly making him more comfortable on A-Day when he has a chance to play in a game-like situation.
It’s likely that the competition will mostly be decided by the end of spring (A-Day), but if Star can manage to hang in the competition that long, then he does have an advantage. He played in five games in 2009, completing 12 of his 18 pass attempts (72.2%) for 116 yards. None of those completions were risky throws, and his long was just 21 yards. But he has taken live snaps under the bright lights at Bryant-Denny, and that could help him if it gets that far.
If he does manage to claim the #2 spot, expect all rumors of a possible transfer to end immediately. If he exits the spring in the #3 spot (or #4), then you can expect those rumors to explode. And chances are, they’ll probably become more than rumors. Though it is worth noting that some guys are perfectly content in being a career backup. It’s possible that he is very happy in
A.J. McCarron – FR – 6-4 – 190 –
According to Coach Saban, A.J. had claimed the backup quarterback role by season’s end. Yes, we saw
And that, folks, instantly makes A.J. McCarron the most popular player on the
The good news is that McCarron is, evidently, the real deal. He is a big kid at 6-4, and he will have spent 10 months in Scott Cochran’s strength and conditioning program by the time that spring practice ends. He will have endured Coach Saban/Cochran’s infamous “4th Quarter Program.” That should mean that we will see McCarron significantly heavier than his listed weight of 190 lbs.
What gets people excited about him, though, is his ability to make plays. While McElroy has been given the “game manager” label, McCarron is thought to be a guy who can make all of the throws. He’s got a lightning quick release, which makes his arm look stronger than it is, though his arm is plenty strong enough.
Heading into the spring, this is McCarron’s job to lose. He exited the season in this spot, and despite what Coach Saban says about depth charts being for organizational purposes only, he will enter spring practice as the #2 guy.
Phillip Sims – FR – 6-2 – 209 –
If the name isn’t familiar to you, it is because Sims just joined the team in January. He graduated High School in December, and enrolled for the spring semester, specifically so that he could go through spring practice.
This is a big deal for any player, and will likely pay huge dividends for all 11 Bama players who were able to enroll at the beginning of the semester. But for a quarterback, even one who is likely to redshirt, it is huge. Having a full semester and a full spring practice to not only learn the playbook, but adjust to the speed of the college game, and to college life, is huge. If Sims is able to contribute in 2010, this will be the main reason why.
He is rated by most of the recruiting services as being one of the top five quarterbacks in the nation coming out of high school - #1 by ESPNU. In fact, the only knock that any of the services seem to have on him is that his weight is probably a little higher than the listed 209 lbs. The great news there is that he will go through the “4th Quarter Program”, which should quickly solve any potential problem there.
He has a bright future ahead of him, and certainly looks the part of being ready to play. The great thing about the Tide’s quarterback situation is that they don’t need him to play immediately. A redshirt for him would be ideal.
EDITOR’S NOTE – Again, I will stress, PLEASE learn to spell this kid’s name. Phillip Simms (two Ms) is the former Super Bowl winning quarterback for the
How will it wrap up at the end of the spring?
#1 – Greg McElroy
#2 – A.J. McCarron
#3 – Star
#4 – Phillip Sims
McElroy will be the guy from start to finish again in 2010, and a solid spring will go a long way towards avoiding any type of silly fan-driven quarterback controversy that might arise during the off-season. Expect to see him have an easy A-Day as the staff takes a longer look at the other three guys vying for playing time.
McCarron is simply too good to take a step back at this point. Had he been #3 at the end of the season, he might stay there until after the summer workouts. But the fact that he had already passed
There’s nothing earth-shattering here, except for the fact that
I know that lots of folks have soured on
There are obviously some walk-on quarterbacks at this position as well, most notably Morgan Ogilvie and Chris Vines – though technically Ogilvie is on the Bryant Scholarship. Everyone loves an underdog story, but don’t buy into it. Each of these guys will help the team by using their specific skill set to run the scout team. Bama’s starting quarterback, as well as his first two backups will come from the scholarship guys mentioned above. The only things that could work one of these guys into the top four rotation are injury or transfer.
Up next we’ll take a look at the running back position.