Top Alabama Football Questions, No. 3: Quarterback Battle
Alabama football fall camp began on Monday afternoon after several weeks of uncertainty about the viability of this college football season. Many questions about testing, player safety, a college football semi-bubble, etc. have yet to be answered, but this series will focus on the most pressing on-field questions for the Crimson Tide in 2020.
I narrowed down the top-10 questions I'd like to ask coach Nick Saban entering fall camp, and I'll reveal two per day, Monday through Friday. Make sure to check back to Tide1009.com throughout this week to read up all on 10, and catch up on the questions you might've missed by clicking on the links below.
8. "With the young depth you have on the defensive line and the lack of experience at outside linebacker, did you ever consider having LaBryan Ray take some reps at outside linebacker like he did as a freshman?"
7. "If there was a position group that could have used more depth last year, it was probably tight end. With Jahleel Billingsley getting a year under his belt and Carl Tucker coming in from UNC, how are you feeling about that group?"
3. "You've spoken before about the importance of winning the team. How have Mac and Bryce shown their abilities to win the team in the midst of losing spring practice and the uncertainty surrounding this season?"
Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian gave partial answers to this question earlier this week when asked about his quarterback room.
He began with Jones, the redshirt junior who started four games for the Crimson Tide last season including Alabama's 48-45 loss in the Iron Bowl. The question wasn't about the offseason specifically, so Sarkisian answered based on last season, complimenting Jones' moxie and toughness to keep taking hits and to rebound after throwing two pick-sixes in that loss at Auburn.
Then Sarkisian moved to Young, the 5-star freshman who led Mater Dei High School in California to back-to-back state championship game appearances.
“I’ve really been impressed. You know, it was hard for [Young] not having spring practice but the guy definitely studies the game. He works at it. He’s got a great attention to detail. He has a really good feel for the game," Sarkisian said. "... You see the natural feel for the game. Now there’s a lot of little things we have to build on but I think you get a sense for us, at least an idea, of the type of player he’s going to be for us.”
That last sentence could be read as a slight tap on the brakes to those who anointed Young as the team's savior and an immediate upgrade over Jones.
Young's potential can't be ignored, though, even if it needs refining. Senior wide receiver DeVonta Smith said a day earlier, "He's going to be a great quarterback."
The freshman's intelligence, calm presence and escapability are considered his greatest assets, but even before spring practice was canceled, this was Jones' job. With his three years in the program and the physical and emotional progress he's made over that time, it will likely remain that way for most of the 2020 season.