ed. - bumped from the fanposts
Its been expressed in several threads on RBR throughout the off season that there seems to be a calm optimism surrounding Greg McElroy. Many have even suggested that McElroy will even be an upgrade from John Parker Wilson who was a three year stater and fifth year senior. So why all this optimism? Why are we so optimistic over a (RS) junior quarterback who hasn’t started a game since his high school days? I’d like to summarize why we have nothing to fear going into Saturday’s match up with an unproven commodity under center.
- He can do exactly what the coaches ask of him– As has been pointed out in several posts and stories during spring training and fall camp, Saban seems to be very happy with his new starting quarterback. I firmly believe that the coaches trust McElroy to do everything that will be asked of him. We have heard several reports of his leadership abilities, as well as his knowledge of the system. The players respect him because he’s been around. He’s paid his dues and that counts for a lot.
- He won the starting job handily – As fans, we love hearing and talking about the new highly touted recruits making an impact early. But this is just not realistic for the position of quarterback. The fact that your experienced (comparably speaking) junior quarterback came into spring and won the starting job with little resistance is actually a very good thing. Had we been heading into fall camp right smack in the middle of a three way battle for the starting QB job, how nervous would we be then? Star Jackson and A.J. McCarron will have plenty of time in the system to grow as did McElroy. Their time will come.
- Having a top notch defense will curb the pressure – For the first time since the Stallings era, Alabama is loaded with talent at nearly every position on defense. I can’t remember in my lifetime where we were talking about fierce position battles between high end athletes literally all over the field. Alabama will be fielding a defense that many are already comparing to the 1992 squad. Alabama was no slouch in 2008, and it returns 8 starters from a unit that ranked 3rd in total defense nationally. Alabama was crowned National Champions after the '92 season with a young, unproven quarterback under center. A dominant defense, strong running game and solid play at the quarterback position proved to be the winning formula. Sound familiar?
- Surrounding Talent on Offense – This is not the same surrounding cast that sophomore QB John Parker Wilson inherited in 2006 as a newly minted starter. Alabama will have depth at running back that rivals only the most elite programs in the country. We may arguably have the deepest backfield in the country. I don’t think that’s a stretch by any means. I would put our backfield up against Southern Cal’s any day of the week. And that’s before we even get to our other skill position players. Julio Jones is the best WR to play at Alabamain recent memory. He won’t revolutionize the position like Don Hutson did, but he will be just as memorable to Tide fans when its all said and done. Jones himself won’t have to do it alone this go around either. The Tide will field one of the better TE’s in the SEC in Colin Peek. A good TE is a quarterback’s best friend next to his offensive line. Aside from Julio and Peek, Bama will return some good WR’s in their own right. Marquis Maze looks to have a break out year in 2009. And this is Mike McCoy’s last chance to make a lasting impression, so there’s plenty of incentive there. All told, Greg McElroy will have some deadly offensive weapons at his disposal. All he really needs to do is get them the football.
- Motivation– To say there is some motivation to erase last year’s memory of losing the final two games of the season may be the understatement of the year. McElroy, however, has some added motivation here. To put it simply this is his time to shine. He has held a clip board and worn the headset long enough. This is his team now and he knows it.
- The offensive line will be more than adequate– All throughout the off season I’ve heard our rivals and detractors claim that this will be a hard year for the Alabama offense due primarily to replacing three starters on the line from a year ago. As I stated previously, this isn’t the same team that our last new starter at QB inherited. Its true, the offensive line was a major strength last year particularly in the run game. But one cannot simply draw the conclusion that just because we struggled in the Tulane and Utah games without Andre Smith, that that will be the case going forward. With the exception of Drew Davis and Mike Johnson, these aren’t the same players from a year ago. They’ve had an entire off season to work, improve and gel as a unit. There is a significant difference between that, and throwing together a patch-work line due to injury and/or suspension on short notice. For the first time in recent memory, Alabama has quality depth at nearly every position. And the offensive line is no exception. Personally, I would much rather take my chances with an unproven group of elite players, than an experienced group of average to poor players.
The common theme of course is McElroy’s surrounding cast. You just can’t ask for a better scenario for a new starting quarterback. A defense that has the potential to not only be dominant, but be tops in the country. Offensive weapons that rival only other elite programs such as Florida and Southern Cal. Not to mention McElroy’s inherent qualities such as leadership, respect of his teammates and a sound knowledge of the system. So then the question becomes, given all that we know, what fan wouldn’t be optimistic?