GAMEDAY: A-Day results reveal eventual starting quarterback

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Bateman had a turn as quarterback against Ole Miss. CW | Shelby Akin

Elliott Propes

When a quarterback leaves Alabama, the biggest topic of the off-season is who will fill the shoes for the next Greg McElroy or the next AJ McCarron?

The first time the public gets to see the quarterbacks in action every year is the A-Day game. Spring is still extremely early to make a quarterback decision, but do the stats from the game ever lend any insight to who might win the battle? This year, Cooper Bateman is competing for the spot that he’s lost twice already. Is the third time a charm, or will it go to someone else? A good performance at A-Day could tell us something, but who really knows? The last four quarterback battles under Saban shed some light on what role A-Day might have played in those battles.

The first was after John Parker Wilson graduated in 2008. The 2009 season featured a quarterback battle between Greg McElroy, Thomas Darrah and Star Jackson. McElroy had an incredible A-Day game and won Co-MVP with Marquis Maze. He was 16-of-30 with 189 yards and two touchdowns. He is the latest quarterback to win MVP award. After A-Day, he might have been the most obvious choice out of any of the four battle years.

Going into the 2011 season, it was a tight quarterback battle between McCarron and Phillip Sims. The A-Day game did not clarify the decision any either. McCarron finished 21-of-38 with 222 yards and a touchdown and an interception. Sims finished 19-38 with 229 yards. No starter was named until after a win in week two at Penn State, in which McCarron won the job. In this case, the A-Day game was accurate in reflecting the closeness of the battle.

The 2014 A-Day results might be the most deceiving. Cooper Bateman and Blake Sims got the most reps. Jake Coker was not at Alabama yet to compete. Bateman outplayed Sims. He finished 11-of-24 with 156 yards and a touchdown. Sims finished 13-of-30 with 178 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, but he also threw two balls that were dropped interceptions. It would be Sims, though, that would win the battle and take Alabama to its first ever College Football Playoff appearance.

Last year, Cooper Bateman was at it again, this time battling Coker, Alec Morris, Blake Barnett and David Cornwell. This game reflected the ultimate decision that did not solidify until after the week three loss against Ole Miss. At A-Day, Coker finished 14-of-28 for 183 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Cornwell finished 12-of-24 for 110 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Bateman received less reps finishing 7-of-11 for 48 yards and an interception.

With these results, it seems the A-Day results, minus 2014, reflected what would ultimately happen in the season. This year, Bateman is battling again for the last time. His opponents are Cornwell, Barnett and freshman Jalen Hurts. Saban was quoted recently if he had to start anybody right now it would be Bateman, but no one really knows. Maybe A-day will tell us. Maybe, like 2014, it won’t.