Alabama football: Saban says he would be OK with two-quarterback system if needed

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerApril 21, 2011 

There’s been no rush to name a new starting quarterback all spring in Tuscaloosa.

That wait could now extend well into fall.

Nick Saban never used the “two-quarterback system” phrase on Wednesday’s SEC teleconference, but he hinted it was a possibility after A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims dueled evenly all spring.

“Until somebody separates, I have no problem doing that,” Saban said. “I really don’t. I like both guys. I have confidence in both guys. We have confidence in both guys, and I think our players do.”

Saban only briefly had addressed the prospect of McCarron and Sims sharing the role and hasn’t been a proponent of using multiple quarterbacks in a primary role. Last season, Saban said he preferred having one starter for the sake of continuity and leadership.

But after an even duel in the 15 spring practices capped by Saturday’s A-Day game, Saban isn’t opposed to letting this run into the season.

“Statistically, you can look at it and cut it up in all kinds of different ways, but I think from a leadership and execution standpoint, both guys made a lot of progress and did a good job,” Saban said. “We’re going to continue to develop both guys. If they can both play winning football, they both should be able to make some contribution to our team.”

The two shared time with the first team in Saturday’s spring game. McCarron spent the first half with the starters and Sims the second.

Both threw 38 passes. McCarron completed 21 and Sims 19. Yardage-wise, Sims’ 229 were 7 better than McCarron’s, and both threw one interception within minutes of each other.

Offensive lineman Barrett Jones couldn’t handicap the race after Saturday’s action.

“Both made some big plays in the passing game,” said Jones, a two-year starter. “That’s how it’s been all spring. They’ve been neck and neck.

“Both did a great job of leading the huddle out there and being assertive. I saw a lot of positives out of both of them.”

The wildcard in the group is another Sims not related to Phillip.

Saban said he was surprised by the spring redshirt freshman Blake Sims had. After playing the role of athletic quarterbacks Jordan Jefferson, Jeremiah Masoli and Cam Newton on the scout team last fall, Blake Sims stuck with the quarterbacks this spring.

An option quarterback in high school, Blake Sims showed off a strong arm playing a few series Saturday.

“He actually can throw it a little bit better than we thought,” Saban said. “He’s very athletic and can make lots of plays with his feet. And he really, sort of, gives us a different option relative to our other two guys in terms of style and type. That might be a good thing, and he might contribute a little because of that.”

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