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Jumbo Package: Concerns about QB play drop Tide down post-spring rankings

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

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Alabama Spring Football Game Photo by Brandon Sumrall/Getty Images

Happy Monday, everyone. Alabama baseball overcame all kinds of adversity to take two of three from powerhouse Vanderbilt. Meanwhile, the softball team took two of three from Ole Miss and will next play on Wednesday at 4pm in the SEC Tournament against either Mississippi State or Missouri.

David Ubben over at The Athletic has Alabama third in the SEC coming into the season.

Alabama has talent, but it lacks experience. For now. Alabama added Notre Dame’s Tyler Buchner to a crowded quarterbacks group, but the defense will need to be better to turn the Crimson Tide back into a title contender in what should be a contentious SEC West race. Buchner is more experienced than Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson, but he’s not a returning Heisman winner, either.

Nick Saban has two new coordinators in Kevin Steele and Tommy Rees, and Alabama has a lot to prove at receiver after an underwhelming 2022 for a unit that has more often been a strength in recent seasons and produced a Heisman winner.

I continue to chuckle at the stock being placed into a LSU program that essentially made its whole season with a home upset of Alabama last year. They were embarrassed by Tennessee and Texas A&M, and barely got by Arkansas without KJ Jefferson. Guess we’ll see how they do with actual expectations this year, that may be a little out of control.

Meanwhile, poor little Alabama just has little chance at the playoff because media members don’t yet know who will play QB.

There is genuine concern now that Notre Dame QB Tyler Buchner has been brought in to compete with Ty Simpson and Jalen Milroe. The Crimson Tide go from the No. 1 overall player in the draft at quarterback (Bryce Young) to a giant question mark. Consecutive years out of the CFP aren’t going to sit well with the always level-headed Bama fans. That’s never happened. Way-too-early ranking: 4

Going to go ahead and apologize to Alabama fans in May. The Crimson Tide could fail to get to the playoff, again, thanks to two regular-season losses. Their reward? A possible matchup with the Group of Five champion. We’re thinking Tulane or Boise State in this spot. Michael Pratt’s back for the Green Wave, but that team did lose several key pieces from last year’s historical run under Willie Fritz. Nick Saban’s not going to like another postseason game without a title up for grabs, but it is what it is with a quarterback situation defined by too many lingering questions.

It’s difficult to believe Buchner would come to Alabama to be a backup. He has three years of eligibility remaining and began last season as the Notre Dame starter before injuring his shoulder in Week 2 and having surgery. He returned for the bowl game and accounted for five touchdowns in a Notre Dame win. Alabama offered Buchner when he was in high school, but he opted for Notre Dame. It says a lot about both Milroe and Simpson and their belief in themselves that they didn’t transfer after Buchner came aboard. Milroe and Simpson, who have combined for 65 college passing attempts, are determined to stay and fight for the starting job. Alabama also has two more scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, freshmen Dylan Lonergan and Eli Holstein. We know this about Nick Saban: He’s going to play the best guy and the guy who wins over the locker room. Buchner’s stats at Notre Dame weren’t eye-popping, but clearly Rees thinks he’s an upgrade over what the Alabama coaches saw this spring. We’re going to find out.

We’ll see how it all shakes out in the fall, but the assumption that Alabama is going to get bad QB play is a bit premature.

Alabama is going hard after UAB safety Jaylin Key.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder is coming off a breakout season with the Blazers, recording 60 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss and three interceptions.

“For me it’s the caliber of program,” he said of why Bama could be the pick. “They’ll set you up for success on and off the football field. It’s just the caliber of Alabama and what it stands for. For me it’s pretty much preparing for the next level, which would be the NFL. It doesn’t really get much better than Alabama. The pedigree of coaches and Coach Saban, it can’t get any bigger than that.”

Key is a guy with first round potential, and could pair with Caleb Downs to form one of the best tandems in the nation.

Christopher Walsh took a stab at the post-spring depth chart, and the defensive line is one position that we hope to see big improvement from.

Oatis looks like he could have a monster season. He’s probably the top candidate on the defensive side for breakout year. Eboigbe is back after finally being cleared following a scary nick injury last season. His new teammates were raving this spring about James Smith’s potential. Alabama wrapped up the spring with a whopping 15 defensive linemen on the roster, so we’re thinking the coaches might go with a heavier rotation than usual. Three players to keep an eye on include Khurtiss Perry, Monkell Goodwine and Isaiah Hastings, who have all had a season to acclimate and beef up.

Julian Sayin commented on why he chose to headline Alabama’s 2024 class.

“There’s a lot to like about Alabama. I would say Bama is the standard for college football. When you go on Saturdays and turn on the TV and see that crimson, you think of Alabama. Coach Saban, being the greatest coach of all time, how could you not want to play for a guy like that? And then just the ability to produce NFL talent they have there. Their track record for quarterbacks is second to none.”

Last, Brad Bohannon did the sports betting world a solid by proving that the monitoring systems work! Ain’t that grand?

A Friday interview with Holt was interrupted briefly due to a call from the SEC office. Holt and his company are in-demand in this new world, and college sports is figuring out its place in it. Is the Alabama baseball controversy, on the heels of the NFL suspensions, a sign of things to come or an example of how the legalized system’s guardrails work? It might be both.

“A lot of people are saying this is a cautionary tale, but I say no; this is a perfect example of why regulated sports betting works,” Holt said. “We’d never catch these individuals if they’re with offshore books or illegal bookmakers. The (sportsbook) operators deserve so much credit. If they didn’t report first here, we wouldn’t get the report, it doesn’t get to the Ohio Casino Control Commission.

“It worked because everybody participates and collaborates together.”

That’s about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.