CECIL HURT: Circumstances quiet any Alabama football quarterback queries
People argued long before 2020 came along. Today’s arguments may be less civil, more frequent and, thanks to social media, tremendously cacophonous. But people argued politics before every election, or the best cheeseburger in town or whose turn it was to mop the bathroom long before social media came along. And almost every August, it seemed, the people in Tuscaloosa argued about quarterbacks.
Some years, the coffee talk was more vehement than others, especially when there was a hot-shot freshman involved. Plus, an entirely new generation he’s been rearmed with the argument that “(Insert Quarterback X) just doesn’t spin it like Ol’ Tua did,” as if the gap between that and “He just doesn’t throw it like Ol’ Joe Willie did” doesn’t encompass 50 years.
But 2020 seems determined to take away everything, and it may have taken the steam out of this season’s quarterback discussion. There is a hotshot freshman on the Alabama roster, and while he would be challenging a talented upperclassman with some experience that was thrust upon him last year, Mac Jones isn’t quite as entrenched as, say, 2013 A.J. McCarron was. Bryce Young came in with a high school highlight reel that could win an Academy Award, but what he hasn’t gotten yet is a single snap in a scrimmage in Tuscaloosa. Young did not participate in Alabama’s first scrimmage last Saturday and missed a few days before that as well. Nick Saban confirmed that without divulging any medical information but 2020 common sense can probably be your guide here.
What he has done since arriving here from California, Young has done well.
“With Bryce, I’ve really been impressed,” UA offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said in his single fall-preparation media appearance last week. “It was hard for him 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.
“You see the natural passer in him. 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.”
Still, the scheduled opener with Missouri will only be three weeks away by the time Alabama practices again. That just doesn’t seem like enough time to get ready for flying bodies and fierce contact and fast receivers going against opposing defensive backs. Jones has done all those things. So has Paul Tyson, the No. 2 quarterback last Saturday.
There are two remaining points. First, the coronavirus could make starters of us all — or at least all those on the Alabama roster — at some point. Experience may not matter in the face of urgency.
Second, the perennial obsession with the “other” quarterback isn’t going away easily. When Saban made a passing reference to passing numbers following the scrimmage (as rare as a dancing unicorn by itself) and said that Jones went “21 for 35,” the electron microscopes came out, looking for clues as to whether that was “good,” “bad” or “frightening.” It was much-discussed in some circles.
It’s good to know that some traditions never die.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt