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.
How’s that for a clickbait headline? I almost hated to link to this one for that exact reason. But, I thought it would be a good time to add in some commentary on the backup QBs. It’s going to be a real fun offseason next summer, I think. It’ll be a fresh new QB battle with three contrasting styles. There’s Mac Jones, a more west coast guy with some mobility; Taulia Tagovailoa, a more Russell Wilson/Johnny Manziel/Doug Flutie-style sandlot scrambler; and Paul Tyson, your prototypical big guy with a lot of arm strength.
It’s a year early, but it’s never too early to stir up some speculation. Who you want for 2020?
Who do you want to be Alabama’s 2020 QB?
This poll is closed
Other (freshman, transfer, walk-on?)
Auburn, Florida, Texas A&M: If the first five years of playoff selection have taught me anything, it’s that conference titles matter, but they don’t matter as much as some conferences may want. No conference is better equipped to take advantage of that more than the SEC. The committee tends to admire the ability to survive the SEC with only a loss (and maybe even two) more than winning in Atlanta at the end of the season.
As such, all three of these teams must be considered. And to be clear, the reason I chose these three is that they’re all capable of winning the SEC in 2019. You wouldn’t consider any of them favorites in the conference, but if we fast-forwarded to December right now and you saw one of these teams playing in Atlanta, you wouldn’t be surprised, either.
What this really means is that someone like Alabama can go undefeated but lose to Texas A&M on a bad night, while the Aggies might have lost to a middling SEC team as well as an out of conference game and wind up representing the SEC West in the championship. Ditto for Georgia and Florida. That specific scenario starting has popped up way too often in the last 5 years. On one hand, it often gives the SEC the chance to put two teams into the national playoffs. On the other hand, it puts some teams in more favorable positions than more deserving teams. Do you think the SEC (or the CFP committee) will end up making some changes?
The situation at outside linebacker got a lot more interesting in the last week with Eyabi Anoma entering the transfer portal and not expected back in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The former 5-star recruit was likely to see his role increase this fall with players like Christian Miller moving on to the NFL, but now, it will be up to some of Alabama’s younger players to step up in his place. A guy like Christopher Allen will have an opportunity to be heavily involved off the edge this fall as the first outside linebacker off the bench behind starters Anfernee Jennings and Terrell Lewis.
However, the health of both Lewis and Allen will be something we watch to open camp, as they were limited by knee injuries they suffered before the 2018 season. Lewis was shut down before the spring ended and is a very important piece to the Crimson Tide’s 2019 defense. Another player dealing with injuries in the spring was Ben Davis. Could this finally be the year the former 5-star recruit sniffs the field? With another outside linebacker leaving, he might get that chance, but there will also be opportunities for Jarez Parks and freshmen Kevin Harris and King Mwikuta.
We’ll be getting into our own positional previews in the comings weeks, but here’s a good overall summary from Charlie Potter at 247. The last two years have seen the Tide deal with a positively ludicrous number of injuries to the same position, and, quite honestly, it just has to regress to mean eventually. Sure, statistics don’t technically work that way, but hey, force of will and good vibes and stuff.
Chris Allen looked extremely talented, just over his head, during his freshman year. The preseason injury in 2018 has made him a mostly forgotten name, but he’ll have a good shot to be more than just a backup.
“He was great (at The Opening),” Simmons said of Robinson, who played defensive back as a sophomore at Jackson-Olin before moving to defensive end last season. “For him to have the feel and the natural movement skills in coverage and in space at that length was, I think, very telling and just kind of further gave us confidence with what his trajectory looks like.”
“I think if you’re ranking him based purely on his junior film, we wouldn’t have him as high as we do,” Simmons said of Robinson, who recorded 40 tackles and eight sacks as a junior at Jackson-Olin. “... I think we expect to see and we’re going to want to see an improved product on the film. So that’s going to be something to keep an eye on for his senior season. If the film is better, then I think he could go even higher. If the film is about what it looked like his junior year, then maybe we’ve got him a little bit too high. So that’s going to be some interesting tape to watch. I think we all believe he’s going to take a huge leap and take a big step forward based on what we’ve seen.”
The Alabama bump, PPPAAAAAWWWWLLLL.
Seriously though, most of Robinson’s ascension up the rankings actually occurred while he was an Auburn commit. Then he showed out in the national summer camps and is now a fringe-five star. That said, he’s more potential than actual production. If he translates his offseason accomplishments to a dominant senior season, then he’ll potentially be the top recruit in Alabama’s class.
Kennedy is up 11 spots in the 247 Composite rankings since he committed to the Tide June 9, up from 86th to 75th in the overall rankings.
Like Robinson, Kennedy is a former Auburn commit. And like Robinson, Kennedy has moved up a ton in the rankings these past five months.
The Theodore product was ranked as the No. 223 overall player in the 2020 class as recently as mid-February. He’s jumped up 148 spots since then and is now rated as the fifth-best inside linebacker in the class.
Not to be outdone by themselves, AL.com then posted a follow-up article to Robinson moving in the rankings with a list of other big movers in Alabama’s commit list. With Kennedy locked up too, that’s both of the top players in the state. The two could become quite a duo in a few years.