One of the biggest question marks coming into Alabama’s fall camp involves the eventual starting quarterback.

It’s a question mark that will greet the coaching staff for the third consecutive season.

Gene Newberry, a former quarterback and tight end for the Crimson Tide during the mid-1980s, appeared on the Gary Harris Show to break down the quarterback competition entering fall practice.

Recalling his quarterback battle against Mike Shula, Vince Sutton and Paul Fields prior to the 1984 season, Newberry downplayed the role of spring practice as a factor in determining a starting quarterback.

“The spring is great for getting you highlighted, but unless you come back in the summer and really, really work hard and then perform in the fall scrimmages, the spring really doesn’t matter.” Newberry said.

As he shared his recollection of competing for the starting quarterback spot, Newberry relayed a reminder that former head coach Ray Perkins gave him about undervaluing the mental side of the game.

“I just relied too much on my physical skills. I know I drove Coach Perkins crazy too, and he would say all the time, just because you’re completing some of the throws because of arm strength and things like that, there are still the reads that you have to go through. I probably drove him crazy a lot, and because I didn’t do some of those mental things, you end up holding a clipboard.” Newberry said.

The former Crimson Tide athlete analyzed each of the four primary quarterbacks expected to compete in the fall.

When it came time to evaluate Blake Barnett’s chances of being the starting quarterback, Newberry cited his past at Alabama as a cautionary tale for Barnett.

“Blake’s just in a situation where he just has to cut down mistakes. That’s it with him. I think it’s kind of like me with Coach (Ray) Perkins. When you’re running down the field and you make a 50-yard run, if you fumble at the end of it, you’ve ruined all that good will you had on the 50-yard run.” Newberry said.

He explained how fall camp could make or break Barnett’s chances of starting as a redshirt freshman.

“I think Blake had a lot of turnovers in the spring and until he cuts those down, I don’t think he can be the guy. But if he does, if he has a great fall camp, he has a chance to be the guy as well.” Newberry said.

The former quarterback mentioned Cooper Bateman as the safe bet for opening the season as the starter.

"Seriously, I think Cooper (Bateman) being the guy with a little bit of experience. The Ole Miss game was a big game whether he got pulled or not. He knows what it feels like. He's your safe bet to start the season." Newberry said.

Catch the Gary Harris Show every weekday from 9-11 AM on Tide 102.9 and the radioPup app.


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