This is the first in a seven-part series looking ahead to the start of Alabama’s fall football practice. We begin with a breakdown of the quarterback position.

Quarterbacks Running backs | Receivers and tight ends | Offensive line | Defensive line | Linebackers | Secondary

Nick Saban put everyone on notice during SEC Media Days, and he’s since repeated it: There is no quarterback competition.

Saban has said repeatedly that Jalen Hurts is the starting quarterback. Still, he also said in the same breath that true freshman Tua Tagovailoa needs to play.

That’s not all that surprising given the fact that there is zero experience behind Hurts. It’s also not surprising that Tagovailoa is the guy that needs to play given his play at the spring game.

The starter

Anytime Saban’s been asked about Hurts, the UA coach is quick to point out that he remains the starter.

He’s also repeatedly stated the need for balance on offense, that Hurts must develop as a consistent passer in order to unlock the potential of the offense. Saban has shouldered the coaching staff’s responsibility in that role, saying they took a risk-averse approach with Hurts a a year ago.

With a new offensive coordinator, Saban said goal one is to develop the passing game.

“I think Brian Daboll has done a great job of creating that balance in your offense and helping Jalen develop into a more efficient passer,” Saban said. “Our system is flexible enough on offense to feature the players that we have.

“I think we’ve done what our quarterbacks could do the last three years. I think we want Jalen to develop in a quarterback who could be multifaceted in terms of being a great threat as a runner and a passer. I think our offense will reflect that this year.”

The backups

Tagovailoa had a productive spring, and he caught fans’ attention.

With virtually no experience among the backups, Tagovailoa is the best option to see action this season. Saban said the team needs it.

“Tua is a very, very good player and we’re glad to have him in the program,” Saban said. “He’s someone who needs to play some. Now, I’m not creating a quarterback controversy here because Jalen Hurts is our starting quarterback.”

True freshman Mac Jones is the only other scholarship quarterback on the roster after the departure of David Cornwell and Cooper Bateman in the offseason.

The outlook

Increased consistency and production is the name of the game, and the outlook is positive with Daboll calling the plays. His interaction with the quarterbacks during the spring was more than the media usually saw under former offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

If Hurts can manage to become a consistent passer in the intermediate passing game and hit the deep ball enough to keep defenses honest, this Alabama offense could be one of the best of the Saban era.

Reach Aaron Suttles at or at 205-722-0229.