2013 Alabama Football Preview: A look at QB A.J. McCarron & the backup situation

Alabama Football Preview 2013: Quarterback AJ McCarron a Heisman Trophy candidate for the Crimson Tide

Alabama Football Preview 2013: Quarterback AJ McCarron is a Heisman Trophy candidate for the Crimson Tide

Guest Post Alabama Football Preview by Joshua

Right now, the Mighty Alabama Crimson Tide are the “New England Patriots” of college football. But at his point in the 2013 season, the Tide is just like any other college team in the nation. Everybody is undefeated. But what sets Alabama football apart? As Bama sets it’s sites on the new season, it does so eyeing a third consecutive national championship, its fourth in the last 5 years.

The question is, will Alabama be able to three-peat? Taking a close look at Alabama’s 2013 roster should help us answer this question as Alabama head coach Nick Saban has said, “The challenge of college football comes from the annual roster turnover,” an annual reality that can be as high as 25 percent. The 2012 season ended with the loss of 13 major contributors this Alabama team, not including the four players dismissed following their involvement in a second-degree robbery scandal.

So let’s start this Alabama football preview with one of the most important positions…quarterback. Bama currently has six on their roster. As the only senior quarterback on the team, A.J. McCarron comes into the 2013 season as a third-year starter and a legitimate Heisman trophy candidate; two facts that should give Alabama great hope for its offense this season. However, will the pressure of being a Heisman candidate obstruct a much larger goal of winning a National Championship for McCarron and the Alabama offense? One would think so, however, over the last three years McCarron has evolved from the dreaded title of “game manager” into becoming a playmaker, and team leader in the process.

Evidence of his playmaking abilities showed up in passing efficiency, where he led the nation last year. McCarron completed nearly 67 percent of his passes, racking up over 2,800 yards, and breaking a school record of 30 touchdowns, all while throwing only three…three…picks on the year. A feat achieved by only three other quarterbacks since the 1950’s.

McCarron should also have a strong support system this year as junior Blake Sims and sophomore Phillip Ely resume their backup roles, as well as strong-armed Alex Morris, who some said had the best spring among all backups at the position. The two bring experience and leadership to Alabama’s 2013 team. Three promising freshman quarterbacks also entered the fray, as Cooper Bateman, Parker McLeod and walk-on Luke Del Rio mark the beginning of competition for a starter in 2014.

Next year at this time questions will center on who will be the Tide’s next starting quarterback, but with that question firmly answered for this campaign, it’ll be interesting in 2013 to see who gains Saban’s trust in that backup area. During Saban’s tenure at Alabama, backups have been relegated to cleanup work at the end of a blowout. Some programs choose to use their backups early in games to get them experience. Not Saban. So it’s difficult to get a clear picture of what we have in the tank at backup QB.

Expect redshirt freshman Alec Morris, incoming freshmen Cooper Bateman and Parker McLeod to contend for the back-up position throughout the 2013 season. Ely has played sparingly in his short career at Alabama, playing in six games and completing 3-of-4 passes for 42 yards and a touchdown. Junior Blake Sims has the most extensive resume, which again in Saban’s system doesn’t say much. But it’s the running dimension that Sims adds to the Alabama offense. Of 105 men on the Alabama roster, Sims is a true athlete. Bruce Miller, who coached Sims at Gainesville (Ga.) High School vouches for Sims athletic ability, stating, “I’ve been in it 39 years, and he can do it all. There’s nothing on a football field that he can’t do.” LINK

Running Back, Quarterback, Kick Returner, the junior has an armada of talents he brings to the field. His very first days at Alabama were spent at defensive back, a position known for its need for speed and agility. Currently, the 6 ft., 212 lb. junior spends his days practicing at quarterback, looking to be the second option behind McCarron. His stats show versatility with the football with 187 yards on 30 carries and 5-10 passing for 77 yards in 2012. Sims is a player that has such an impressive running game, that you tend to overlook his throwing ability. He eclipsed 2,000 yards in two consecutive seasons in high school, falling just 933 yards short of McCarron.

What do you think? Do you think AJ McCarron has a chance to win the Heisman? What about his chances of leading Alabama to a repeat? What about Alabama’s backup QB situation? Is Blake Sims the best option? Or should Alabama look to one of the younger players as a backup? Share your thoughts below and check back as we continue our look at Alabama football 2013.