Alabama Coach Nick Saban Speaks Out On Quarterback Battle

Nick Saban

Getty Image / Johnnie Izquierdo

It’s been a while since Alabama went into a season without a great option at quarterback. But, we are just nine days away from their season opener, and Nick Saban still doesn’t know who the starting quarterback is.

Alabama has had a future NFL starter at quarterback every year since 2016. Maybe that person is on the roster this year, but it doesn’t seem that way.

The pressure is on, too. Alabama has come up short of the national championship the last two years and has fallen behind the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC pecking order. Questions of whether Nick Saban will win another national title before he retires are starting to be asked.

The three options are Jalen Milroe, Ty Simpson, and Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner.

Milroe is the veteran in the room, having been with the program since 2021. The Texas native is a dual-threat guy, and would be a dynamic runner in new offensive coordinator Tommy Rees’s offense.

But, his ability as a passer is to be questioned. Simpson was one of the top quarterbacks in the class of 2022, and has the most potential of the three. But, rumors are he has struggled with turnovers during both the spring and in the preseason. Nick Saban wants to focus more on the ground this year, and limiting turnovers is going to be a must.

Buchner was the opening-game starter at Notre Dame last year, but the former top recruit was less-than-impressive. Buchner completed just 55% of his passes for three touchdowns and five interceptions. He followed his offensive coordinator to Tuscaloosa.

But, none of them have grabbed the job yet, according to Saban. Here is On3 with more.

Saban reiterated his challenge to the three quarterbacks — Tyler Buchner, Ty Simpson and Jalen Milroe — to force him to make a decision. But while many fans want to know an answer for the first game, he said that won’t mean the competition is over. In fact, in Saban’s eyes, the battle would just be beginning.

“Like I said in here before, I told the quarterbacks, I said quit looking around for me to make a decision about who’s going to play. How about you play and good enough that I don’t have a choice?” Saban said Wednesday. “That’s what you can control. That’s what you can do, and somebody needs to do that. And it’s sort of taking shape to some degree, but somebody’s somebody’s got to do it.

“Where you all think that whoever we name is a starter for the first game, that’s like the end of it. It’s not the end of it. It’s just the beginning. What if a guy doesn’t play good? He’s not entitled to keep playing. And the guy that doesn’t play has got every opportunity to practice and be more consistent and win the team over so that when he gets an opportunity to play, he plays really well. I mean, we have changed quarterbacks around here a few times during the season. So I know you guys are looking for an end, but it’s not even going to be the end in the first game.”

The quarterback competition isn’t just about making sure the quarterbacks are ready, though. It’s also about the whole team lifting the starter up and helping the entire team win games.

“We’re gonna make the best of it for our team,” Nick Saban said. “And our team has to make the best of it, as well. Whoever plays the position, everybody’s got to play while around them and do the best job that they can to help them play well.”

Sounds like the Alabama quarterback battle is far from settled. The team welcomes Middle Tennessee State in week one, but Texas comes to town the week after.