Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham made one of the more surprising decisions on Monday. Instead of naming the senior captain as his starting quarterback, Whittingham chose sophomore Tyler Huntley to be the team’s starting quarterback in Week 1 against North Dakota.
The decision to go with Huntley means Troy Williams will be reduced to backup duty. Alabama transfer Cooper Bateman will also be sitting down on the depth chart, which is another mild surprise from Salt Lake City.
Williams was Utah’s quarterback last season when the Utes made a push for the Pac-12 South Division before falling just short of the Pac-12 championship game. Williams passed for 2,757 yards and 15 touchdowns. Williams also rushed for 235 yards and five touchdowns for the Utes.
As a freshman, Huntley appeared in six games and attempted just seven passes for 60 total yards. It would seem Huntley has done a lot to impress the coaches to earn the starting nod over an experienced starter and the transfer option. His improvement in the offseason and athleticism are said to be fueling his rise as a quarterback, so we’ll see how that pays off on the field once the games begin.
With Alabama seeing a rising star in freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts, it should be no real shock Cooper Bateman would contemplate finding a new place to call home and throw the pigskin around next fall. According to a report this morning from AL.com, that is exactly what he will do.
A redshirt junior, Bateman ended the season sitting third on Alabama’s depth chart at quarterback despite starting off the spring as the most likely starter for the defending national champions. Not only did Bateman fall behind Hurts, but also Blake Barnett. Barnett opted to leave Alabama earlier this season and continues to search for a landing spot.
Al.com reports it is unknown or unconfirmed exactly when Bateman will formally leave the team. For now, there is uncertainty over whether or not Bateman will remain with the Tide during the upcoming playoff run. It is worth remembering players deciding to leave the Alabama program have been shown the door in not-so-flattering fashion in the past, so if Bateman is out then he may not be welcomed back.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is unsure who should be his starting quarterback heading into this weekend’s game against Western Michigan. Alabama’s Nick Saban may be slightly more definitive in his quarterback decision this week. On Monday Saban showed signs of leaning toward Jacob Coker to be the Tide’s QB1 when they look to bounce back after a home loss to Ole Miss.
“At this point, providing he does the things he has to do, I think we’ll start him in this game,” Saban said Monday, per Al.com.
Saban started freshman Cooper Bateman this past weekend against Ole Miss, although Saban eventually replaced him with Coker. Was Saban out-thinking himself starting Bateman instead of Coker against Ole Miss? Would the game have gone any differently if Coker started the game? Probably not, since neither quarterback would be playing defense or special teams for the Tide.
No matter which player ends up playing quarterback for Alabama, Saban should see his team pick up a win this weekend. Alabama hosts Louisiana-Monroe. Of course, Saban is 0-1 against the Warhawks since he was hired to be Alabama’s head coach. ULM upset Alabama by a score of 21-14 in 2007, Saban’s first season as Alabama’s head coach. The two schools have not faced each other since 2007.
After three weeks of the college football season, it is time for two of the game’s highest paid and most successful coaches to make the most important decision any coach can make and name a starting quarterback. That Urban Meyer and Nick Saban have allowed the quarterback question linger this long is not necessarily surprising, but it is puzzling.
Ohio State’s offense looked fascinating in Week 1 against Virginia Tech, but since then the entire offense has struggled to get in its groove. On Saturday Meyer started Cardale Jones, only to switch things up in the second half with J.T. Barrett. Neither quarterback, surprisingly, was tremendously effective against Northern Illinois. On this day, it did not come back to bite Ohio State with a loss, but Meyer is a smart enough coach who has been around long enough to understand the value and importance of having one single quarterback that is clearly the one to run the offense. This year’s situation is a tad unprecedented, but the time has come for Meyer to gain control of the offense and make clear who the number one passer is going to be.
Ohio State may not have been bitten with a loss while figuring out its quarterback situation. Alabama on the other hand, is now behind the eight-ball. Saban started off a key SEC West game against Ole Miss sending freshman Cooper Bateman to the field to lead the offense at the beginning of the night. As the Crimson Tide dug a hole, Saban switched to Jacob Coker, he who could not win the starting job a year ago and once fell shy of the starting job at Florida State behind Jameis Winston. Coker may not have had a good night with his pass completion percentage, but he was on the field to lead Alabama’s late rally that fell short of avoiding a home upset to Ole Miss. He did show enough to be Alabama’s full time quarterback moving forward tough, and it is time for Saban to make that call.
Meyer admitted in his postgame press conference it may be time to settle down on quarterback moving forward. Saban will be getting there as well. The good news is it is not too late to make that call at either school. Ohio State remains undefeated and Alabama can move forward with the confidence a one-loss champion in the SEC still has a good shot to reach the playoff.
Make the decisions Meyer and Saban. Put it to rest today.
If you grow up in or near Tuscaloosa, Alabama and play quarterback for the local high school, the odds are probably pretty good the dream of playing for Alabama is one that is lifelong. Whether that is the case or not, Seth Franks will be joining the Alabama program as a preferred walk-on.
Franks is the latest addition to Alabama’s Class of 2015. The decision to attend Alabama as a preferred walk-on trumped a scholarship offer from Jacksonville State, which according to Rivals was the only scholarship offer on the table for the two-star recruit. Franks passed for over 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns last season for Tuscaloosa County according to Al.com.
Alabama is currently listing five quarterbacks on the roster online, including senior Jake Coker, junior Alec Morris, sophomore Cooper Bateman and freshmen Blake Barnett and David Cornwell. The Tide came out of the spring lacking a clear winner in the quarterback battle for head coach Nick Saban, which means the competition will continue over the summer as Alabama looks to regain its mojo. Saban has kept a distance from any talk of Ohio State’s Braxton Miller and a possible transfer to Alabama, and for good reason. Franks may not be expected to jump in and surprise in the QB battle this year, but it would be quite the Cinderella story if he did.
Photo credit: Rivals