TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban wouldn’t say who will be the starting quarterback, but he left no doubt after Saturday’s spring game that Greg McElroy is the clear leader.
“He has shown he’s far and away our best quarterback right now. He knows that somebody’s going to have to beat him out,” Saban said after watching McElroy outplay two other contenders in Saturday’s spring game.
McElroy, last year’s backup, is seeking to replace three-year starter John Parker Wilson, who led the Crimson Tide to a 12-2 record and Southeastern Conference Western Division championship last season.
McElroy completed 16 of 30 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Crimson team to a 14-7 win over the White team in the A-Day game. McElroy threw two interceptions.
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The game was played before a near-packed Bryant-Denny Stadium crowd estimated by university officials at 84,050.
McElroy’s completions included a 52-yard touchdown toss to a wide-open Julio Jones over the middle in the first quarter and a 10-yard scoring pass to Mike McCoy in the second.
The touchdown pass to Jones excited the crowd.
“He got open and made a play,” McElroy said. “I knew exactly where he was going to be, and I guess that’s what all the execution over the spring led to, and I was excited we got the points out of it.”
Saturday’s game didn’t count, but McElroy said the crowd made it feel like a midseason game against a conference rival.
“I mean, it wasn’t a relaxed atmosphere,” he said. “The fans were going wild.”
Defensive lineman Terrence Cody agreed that the crowd influenced the players.
“It was crazy,” Cody said. “The stadium was almost fully packed, and it got loud like a real game.”
The only score for the White team came late in the third quarter on a 5-yard run by Ivan Matchett.
Quarterbacks Star Jackson and Thomas Darrah had their moments but could not move the ball consistently against the stiff Crimson Tide defense. Darrah completed 8-of-22 passes for 113 yards, and Jackson was 4-for-13 for 52 yards and threw two interceptions.
Saban said there’s not a clear choice for backup quarterback between Jackson and Darrah.
“Those guys are still competing,” Saban said. He said Jackson and Darrah have both been inconsistent, but he believes they will improve.
“They are both young guys, and I feel both guys who have a good attitude,” Saban said.
Alabama played the spring game without two of its most experienced running backs out with injuries — Mark Ingram (hamstring) and Roy Upchurch (neck). One-time starter Terry Grant rushed 10 times for 27 yards. Collectively, the Crimson and White squads ran for less than 100 yards. The longest running play from scrimmage was a 33-yard end around by receiver Marquis Maze, who also had five catches for 87 yards.
“We need to improve our ability to run the football,” Saban said. “It will help when we get two of our backs back.”
McElroy and Maze were named co-Most Valuable Players for the game, and Marcell Dareus was named the game’s Most Valuable Lineman.
Crimson 7 7 0 0—14
White 0 0 0 7— 7
Crimson — Jones 52 pass from McElroy (Tiffin kick), 9:00
Crimson — McCoy 10 pass from McElroy (Tiffin kick), 4:30
White — Matchett 5 run (Tiffin kick), 14:11
A — 84,050
First downs 11 10
Rushes-yards 19-4 23-37
Passing yards 189 165
Return yards 79 85
Comp-Att-Int 16-30-2 12-35-2
Sacked-Yards Lost 4-31 8-49
Punts 7-41.7 8-36.1
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 3-25 12-69
Time of Possession 28:13 31:47
RUSHING—Crimson, Grant 10-27, Goode 3-7, McElroy 6-(-30). White, Maze 2-47, Griffin 10-31, Matchett 3-8, Darrah 3-(-14), Jackson 5-(-35).
PASSING—Crimson, McElroy 1-30-2 189. White, Darrah 8-22-0 113, S. Jackson 4-13-2 52.
RECEIVING—Crimson, Jones 4-73, McCoy 3-53, Peek 3-32, Grant 3-19, Hanks 2-11, Goode 1-1. White, Maze 5-87, Dial 5-58, C. Jackson 1-15, M. Williams 1-5.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Crimson, Tiffin 55. White, Tiffin, 33.