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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: How Alabama’s QB Situation May Unfold

Timing is everything, and the news of two quarterback transfers couldn’t have come at a worse time

Chattanooga v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Two years ago, both Cooper Bateman and David Cornwell were in the thick of the competition for the starting quarterback job that was ultimately won by Jake Coker. Not only were they in the race, but both were actually rumored to be leading it at one point or another.

Fast forward to this spring; Cornwell appeared to have fallen out of the race and the starting quarterback for Alabama was narrowed down to Cooper Bateman, Blake Barnett and early enrollee Jalen Hurts. Even though Bateman and Barnett took the first snaps of 2016, it was Saban’s plan all along to have Hurts start at quarterback this year. Needless to say, there have been some bumps and bruises along the way in regards to Jalen Hurts’ play, but he’s by far and away been the best option to lead the Tide this year and his team will be garnishing an undefeated record as they enter the College Football Playoffs.

Less than a week after bringing home another SEC Championship, news broke that both Cooper Bateman and David Cornwell will be transferring. You had to see this happening. Unfortunately, the timing could have been better.

Blake Barnett, who left the program midseason, announced earlier this week that he will be attending Arizona State next year. Although Bateman and Cornwell are still with the program, it’s up in the air as to whether they will stick around for the playoffs. [Ed. Note: Cooper Bateman intends on staying with the program through the playoffs.]

As it stands right now, it appears Bateman will stay for the remainder of the year which is a huge sigh of relief. He may not see action at quarterback besides mop-up duty, but he plays an important role as the holder for Adam Griffith as well as a signal caller. Cornwell’s duties are limited to signaling plays, but he is still an important cog in the Alabama offense. With the announcement of these quarterbacks leaving and with Barnett already departed, Jalen Hurts remains the only scholarship quarterback on Alabama’s roster.

The Good

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Alabama vs Florida John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Hurts continues to prove that he may in fact be a robot and remains injury-free while neglecting to show any emotion as he torches Washington’s defense. David Cornwell may have transferred, but Bateman remains as the Tide’s backup quarterback and special teams holder. Fortunately, this scenario is very plausible and all the panic that surfaced from the news of the transfers will be for naught.

To continue on the happy thoughts train, the only starters that Alabama will miss for the playoffs will be Eddie Jackson and Shaun Dion Hamilton. Alabama has delved into their defensive depth chart plenty of times this season and not once has it seemed to be an alarming issue. Bama’s defense is stacked, y’all! Offensively, the line and the running backs have taken some falls this year, but Alabama has arguably the best foursome of running backs in the nation and the line has plenty of talented big boys that can plug and play at any position. The quarterback position is one of the few positions that will nearly cripple Alabama should anything happen to Hurts. High school phenom Tua Tagovailoa can’t arrive in Tuscaloosa fast enough it.

The Bad

NCAA Football: Alabama at Mississippi Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Say what you will about Jalen Hurts, but the kid is an absolute stud. The Throwbot has taken plenty of big hits this season and doesn’t seem to shy away from a defender. With how many times Hurts has taken the play into his own hands and scrambled up the field, Alabama has been more than fortunate that he hasn’t taken a hit that has kept him on the sidelines. (I’m knocking on wood after every word I write.)

If that were to happen and Cooper Bateman were to stay at Alabama until the end of the playoffs, Bateman would be thrown into the fray against arguably one of the three best teams in the country. Deep ball, be damned! We have yet to see the homerun balls that Calvin Ridley was accustomed to receiving from Jake Coker last year, so the whole “weak arm” argument against Bateman is not much of a big deal. The lack of talent/skill still remains otherwise Bateman would be starting over Hurts. Fortunately, Alabama has some of the most talented wide receivers in the nation. Many times, a quick screen pass from Hurts has resulted in a huge gain after the catch. As usual, the defense has been nearly unstoppable this year and has proven that they can overcome an offensive turnover here and there.

While losing Hurts would be bad, Alabama could still win a National Championship with Cooper Bateman at the helm. Remember that time everyone said Ohio State couldn’t win a National Championship with a third string quarterback?

The Ugly

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Alabama vs Florida Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

This is the darkest timeline. Cooper Bateman and David Cornwell leave the team before the playoffs. Not only does that happen, but the same turf from hell that ended Shaun Dion Hamilton’s season puts an end to Jalen Hurts’ season. I’ve switched from knocking on wood, to rubbing the bald head of my A’Shawn Robinson bust that I definitely own. What happens next? Who lines up behind center?

Montana Murphy is out for the season with an injury, so behind him is another walk-on: Josh Palet out of Eastlake High School (Chula Vista, CA). Palet went on twitter to announce his readiness to step on the field should anything befall Jalen Hurts.

Aside from Palet, Alabama has a few players that were also high school quarterbacks. ArDarius Stewart is one of those few. Should anything happen to Hurts, we may see Stewart line up in the wildcat. Auburn got a taste of Stewart’s arm strength this year when he rifled a pass to OJ Howard in the Iron Bowl.

Other Tide players who can throw the ball on the roster are running back Josh Jacobs who ran out of a wildcat offense in high school and Ronnie Harrison who played both safety and quarterback in high school. If worse comes to worse, one of these players would have to take over the Tide offense. The chances of bringing home a 17th National Championship would be severely diminished if this were the case.

Here’s to hoping for an injury-free playoff.