TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — When it comes to University of Alabama football, false alarms and overreactions can be part of everyday life, especially during the late-afternoon hours when the Crimson Tide practice.
Just a couple of weeks ago, for example, word had it left tackle Cam Robinson had suffered a major foot injury that could possibly sideline him indefinitely. In reality, he had endured nothing more than a mild knee sprain and didn’t even miss a day.
“All it was was a scare,” Robinson said Wednesday evening. “The injury wasn’t serious.”
The Grand Poobah of runaway rumors occurred about 10 years ago, when quarterback Brodie Croyle had supposedly been kidnapped during a trip to South America to hunt doves. When that turned out to be false, the rumor morphed into he had single-handedly all but killed the entire dove population on this side of the planet.
This week’s version was much tamer in comparison, with Jake Coker having a setback that caused head coach Nick Saban to issue a statement Monday saying the quarterback would only be out for a few days with a “minor foot injury.”
During Alabama’s viewing period for reporters, which lasts about 10 minutes, Coker was back in his usual spot of leading the quarterbacks through individual drills Wednesday. He took snaps, made throws and even did some rollouts under the watchful eye of team trainer Jeff Allen.
“Jake’s toe deal went very well,” Saban said after practice. “It’s day to day, but maybe another day or two.”
In an ideal world, Coker would be 100 percent for Saturday’s final preseason scrimmage, but even if he’s not, the senior is still the only quarterback on the roster who has attempted a pass in a game.
That means he’s still the one the others have to beat.
Alabama is three days from the scrimmage, four or five days from when a lot of its primary personnel decisions will be made, 12 days from the release of its initial depth chart and 17 days until the season kicks off against Wisconsin at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The last thing anyone should do is overreact, but here, in reverse order of age, is how the quarterbacks stack up:
Alabama QB Recruiting Rankings
|Jake Coker (FSU)||2011||3||532|
Barnett has drawn the most hype and might be the best long-term prospect, but he’s also a true freshman. He could use a year in the weight room, not to mention an extended period of time to master the offense, so the preferred option is for him to redshirt.
“Blake is a young guy that we need to continue to try to develop,” Saban said.
Moreover, fans who are clamoring for Barnett to get thrown into the fire this season aren’t considering what could happen to the rest of the depth chart. If he’s the starter, Alabama could see it go from five down to one or two in a hurry.
Although Cornwell appeared to make major strides during the spring and was the primary quarterback for the second-team offense during A-Day (the final scrimmage played before 65,000 at Bryant-Denny Stadium), all indications are that he’s fallen to the back of the pack.
When Saban commented on the competition Wednesday, he mentioned every player except the redshirt freshman.
Bateman has probably been the least talked about of the five, but coaches have had to more than fine-tune his throwing motion over the past couple of years, and his development remains a work in progress. He’s improved, but if forced into action this season, the sophomore will likely be labeled as a game manager. He’s also the holder for the kickers.
Butch Dill/Associated Press
Alabama’s Alec Morris’ stock appears to be on the rise.
A few months ago most Alabama fans would have guessed that they’d never see Morris start a game at quarterback or do anything except be the backup punter. Now, it’s a realistic possibility. Although his passing numbers on A-Day were almost the exact same at Bateman’s (7-of-11, 60 yards), the one major feather in his cap was that he was the only quarterback who didn’t have a pass intercepted.
Morris has since only raised his stock. His delivery is quicker, he’s more precise with how he goes about things and is noticeably more comfortable with the offense.
Saban said with Coker out, the two players who “probably played a little better in the scrimmage” have been getting the most reps this week: Bateman and Morris.
Consequently, the guess here is that if Alabama had to play tomorrow and Coker was unavailable, Morris would get the nod with Bateman being the third option.
Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.