Alabama's young QBs shine in spring-ending scrimmage
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) For the third straight year, Alabama's quarterback competition will carry over into preseason camp.
Returnees Cooper Bateman, Blake Barnett and David Cornwell and freshman mid-year enrollee Jalen Hurts don't appear to have much separation in the battle to start. All struggled to get the ball into the end zone in Saturday's spring-ending A-Day scrimmage for the defending national champions - of course, it was against what's typically one of the nation's top defenses.
The younger quarterbacks, Barnett and Hurts, put up the best numbers to lead the White to a 7-3 win over the Crimson. They also had the advantage in going against the second-team defense, not the starters.
''Both guys made some good throws, both guys showed their athleticism,'' Tide coach Nick Saban said. ''We certainly looked a little quicker, a little faster, in terms of how we're moving on offense when those two were in there, especially in the first half.''
Playing in front of an announced crowd of 76,212, neither group scored until late in the fourth quarter - partly because Adam Griffith missed his first four field goal attempts after Hurts and Barnett moved the second-team offense into scoring position.
None of the quarterbacks were available for interviews after the scrimmage, or during the spring.
Blake Sims and Jake Coker, who were both at the game, each claimed the job the past two falls and had terrific senior seasons.
So this is nothing new.
Hurts threw for the only touchdown, rolling right and hitting Derek Kief in the end zone for a 5-yard score with 2:48 left. Bateman then led the first-team offense down the field before throwing an interception in the end zone.
Tailback Damien Harris, who's competing with Bo Scarbrough to replace Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, ran for 114 yards on 20 carries for the second-team offense.
Here's a look at all four quarterbacks and their A-Day performances:
-BATEMAN: Has a big edge in experience, and also might be the most athletic of the three returnees since this time last year he was working some at wide receiver. He's the only one in the group who's taken a college snap at quarterback. He started against Mississippi last season, but that also happened to be the only game the Tide lost. Went 9 of 24 for 86 yards with an interception.
-BARNETT: The most highly touted of the bunch, the former five-star prospect has already gone through two springs since he enrolled early. The 6-foot-5, 200-pounder has generated the most buzz among fans because of that apparently high ceiling. Was 9-of-16 passing for 112 yards but also fumbled a shotgun snap from the 5. He got tangled up with Saban on a fourth-quarter scramble. The coach watches from about 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
''I think that on occasion, more than on occasion, when there's a scramble, everybody seems to get attracted to me,'' Saban said, smiling. He joked that it also happens on interception returns and theorizes that ''it's intentional to some degree but as long as I don't get hurt I really don't care.''
-CORNWELL: Was in the mix for the starting job last season, too, before falling behind Bateman and Coker, who wound up leading the Tide to a national championship. Finished 5 of 13 for 50 yards.
-HURTS: Was a four-star recruit who now has a spring under his belt. Had the best numbers, going 11 of 15 for 120 yards with the touchdown. Also had a couple of nice scrambles (quarterbacks were down on contact).
''He reminds me of Blake (Sims), mobile, got a cannon and he can use his feet,'' receiver Cameron Sims said.