We thought the Alabama football quarterback battle would end once Tua Tagovailoa won the job last season. However, there is still a battle.
Nick Saban had to handle one of the largest quarterback battles in Alabama football history last season from every front. Once Tua Tagovailoa officially won the job, I’m sure he believed he could put the quarterback battle thoughts to bed. However, there is still a quarterback battle in Tuscaloosa. It’s just not for QB1.
Last season, Jalen Hurts became the best backup quarterback in college football. Now that he will be the starting quarterback at Oklahoma, the backup quarterback spot is open. The job is more important than most since Tua has injury concerns. If he goes down, the weight of Alabama’s potent offense will go on the shoulders of one of two candidates.
The candidate with the most experience is easily Mac Jones. Jones is entering his third year at Alabama after redshirting his freshman season. However, he hasn’t been higher than the third string quarterback since he joined the team. Most of his reps have involved handing the ball off late in the fourth quarter against FCS opponents. He has shown well in spring games, but that’s very different from games against SEC opponents.
The dark horse candidate is Taulia Tagovailoa, a freshman this season. Taulia is Tua’s brother, and he was one of Alabama’s top prospects in the 2020 class. Although he has a different skill set, he is still incredibly talented.
So far, there hasn’t been a sign as to who will be the backup once the games matter. Mac Jones will likely be the second quarterback on the field against Duke, but that would be more of a nod to his seniority than anything else. We don’t truly know who Saban would start if Tua ever has to miss a game with an injury.
There is also the chance that Saban will only play Taulia in four games in order to save his redshirt, but I don’t believe that is likely. If he’s the future at quarterback, you want him to get playing time whenever he can. The majority of the games that will be lopsided enough to have three quarterbacks on the field are at the beginning of the year are in September. If Alabama walks into October with Taulia already having played his four games, don’t expect him to sit the rest of the year.
Saban will make the right decision when the time comes. However, it will be interesting to see what decision he will end up making.