Pros and cons of all of Alabama’s quarterbacks heading into 2023
There are many questions looming over the Alabama football team as it heads into the 2023 season, but none is more significant than the quarterback position.
Crimson Tide fans have been spoiled over the past few years with NFL franchise-caliber talents Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones and Bryce Young.
Coming back down to earth was never going to be an easy transition, but fortunately, the Tide have some really talented guys on the roster. The position battle remains open among any of the guys with a fair chance for them each to win it. Tide fans were hoping to have some clarity on the position by the end of A-Day, but I think there were more questions than answers coming from the scrimmage.
After a lackluster spring performance across the board, Nick Saban brought in former Notre Dame quarterback, Tyler Buchner, to compete for the job. While it’s likely a three-man race for the job, five guys will get snaps throughout the summer. Rees and Saban have no pressure to go in any specific direction, and I trust they’ll pick the right man for the job.
Below is my assessment on the five guys competing for the QB1 position.
Honorable Mentions: Eli Holstein/Dylan Lonergan
Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports
Pros: Both Holstein and Lonergan impressed during their first appearance in front of fans in the spring game. Each entered Tuscaloosa as highly rated prospects who will eventually compete for the position with one another. The two true freshman showed a lot of understanding for the offense and delivered the ball in a timely manner combining for 11 of 20 and 140 yards and one touchdown through the air. For only being on campus for three months, both seem to have really solid chemistry with the receiving corps.
Cons: Both are probably too young and don’t have enough experience to push for the starting job. But once upon a time, Jalen Hurts came out of nowhere and took the Alabama football program by storm as a true freshman.
Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports
Pros: Of all the guys in the quarterback room, none will have a better understanding of the offense than Tyler Buchner. He spent time running Tommy Rees’ system at Notre Dame and has a firm grasp of it. Additionally, coach Saban would not have brought him in if he didn’t see something special in him.
Cons: Speaking strictly in terms of recruiting rankings, he is the least talented guy in the room. The four other guys competing for the job were top-100 recruits, and Buchner was No. 413 in his cycle. Granted he is only 20 with still a lot of room to improve, in his two years with the Irish he completed 56.7% of his passes with six touchdowns and eight interceptions.
AP Photo/Vasha Hunt
Pros: Simpson is the most polished passer of anyone in the QB room, and he remains very agile and can make plays with his feet. During his senior year of high school, he rushed for more than 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns which is quite remarkable for a pass first guy.
Cons: Simpson remains inexperienced with only five pass attempts at the college level and he didn’t crush his spring game performance. Milroe has gotten the majority of the back up snaps to Bryce Young the past few years, so it has been some time since Simpson played meaningful football. While he played better than the stats indicate, Ty went 12 of 26 for 155 yards during A-Day, which underwhelmed a lot of spectators, including Saban, who decided to examine his portal options.
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Pros: Milroe is the unique guy in the room. He can make plays with his feet that nobody else on the roster could even dream about it. When Bryce Young missed time in 2022, Saban put his confidence in Milroe and they knocked off Texas A&M in his lone start. Milroe went 12 of 19 for 111 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Cons: I think we were all hoping to see a little bit of growth in the passing game. While it still might be there, A-Day wasn’t his best showing. He completed just over 50% of his throws, going 19 of 37 for 245 yards, two touchdowns and two picks. Milroe is good enough to compete for an SEC title, but can he do enough through the air to knock off the elite teams?
Sam's prediction as to who wins the job?
AP Photo/Vasha Hunt
The Tide open the 2023 campaign with Middle Tennessee on Sept. 2, and I think we will see a mix of Milroe and Simpson with maybe a drive or two for Buchner. I don’t think it will really be until Week 2 against Texas that we have a firm grasp on who the guy is.
I think Simpson will be the guy. Milroe’s athleticism is special, and that alone can win you 90% of the games. But to beat Georgia and Ohio State, you need to have a strong passing attack, and from what we have seen so far from him it doesn’t indicate he can dice up an elite level defense.
Simpson on the other hand is very polished, he has been in the system since January 2022, and, most importantly, he is the least likely to make a mistake. He will extend plays with his feet. With a great running game and the weapons he has on the outside, I think he will really grow into the role.
From what I have seen so far, I am not sold on Milroe. He has shown some really promising glimpses, but he’s going to need to play at a much more consistent level. I think Buchner’s style of play is similar to Simpson, and he provides a great safety net at the position. Regardless of which direction Saban goes, he knows he has options, and the QB battle may even remain open throughout the season.