Updating Alabama camp to-do list: What’s solved, what’s left before opener?

Alabama’s third week of practice brought hopes that the team might see some resolution to the biggest question facing the team: Who starts at quarterback? Unfortunately for impatient fans, and perhaps fortunately for three young men, the battle is ongoing.

Many of Alabama’s regular beat writers, and even the talking heads who don’t follow Alabama exclusively, are predicting Alabama will use two quarterbacks to start the season until one emerges as “the guy.” On the other hand, other position battles are beginning to take shape.

What’s been solved?

1. The starting lineup for the offensive line appears to be in order. Unless something unforeseen occurs between now and opening kickoff, it appears the starting offensive line will be: Cam Robinson at left tackle, Lester Cotton at left guard, Ross Pierschbacher at center, Bradley Bozeman at right guard and Jonah Williams at right tackle. Head coach Nick Saban praised Bozeman again this week, citing his “toughness” and versatility to play all three positions. Guard Alphonse Taylor appears to be at the top of the reserve depth chart if anyone should falter.

2. The defensive backs’ depth chart is coming into focus. Marlon Humphrey and Minkah Fitzpatrick are the corners in Alabama’s base package, while Anthony Averett has gotten all the first-team looks at outside corner in the nickel and dime packages with Fitzpatrick sliding into the nickel slot.

Kendall Sheffield, who was in the mix for the nickel back job, has transferred. With all the transfers, freshman Shyheim Carter should have a chance to contribute in a reserve role. Also, Hootie Jones has taken reps as the dime back throughout the fall. Don’t forget, too: Tony Brown should return at some point this season.

Eddie Jackson and Ronnie Harrison are secure as the two starting safeties, while Jones and Deionte Thompson appear to be the top backup options. Trevon Diggs is competing for a spot at both receiver and safety. While he will likely play mostly special teams this season as a freshman, he may see action at safety. Saban complimented his play at the position this week.

3. The tight end position is very clear: O.J. Howard is the clear starter. Meanwhile, two backups have carved out specific roles: Brandon Greene is the top blocking tight end on the team and should receive snaps as a result. Hale Hentges is the top backup in pure receiving terms. All three players are having solid fall camps.

What’s undecided?

1. Obviously, quarterback is still the biggest question mark. Statistics from scrimmages have not been revealed this fall, and Saban’s comments were very general, but Saban did use the word “consistency” a lot, as consistency is a trait he is still seeking. On the one hand, he indicated he isn’t looking for a flashy quarterback to carry the team, but he also indicated he isn’t afraid to start a freshman as long as said freshman has a high level of maturity. The idea of Cooper Bateman beginning the season as the starter, while Jalen Hurts gets limited snaps, is sounding quite possible.

2. With Dalvin Tomlinson slowed by injury, who may step in on the defensive line? Jonathan Allen is the clear leader on the line with Da’Shawn Hand slotted at the other end spot. Da’Ron Payne is slotted for the nose guard job, but Raekwon Davis has impressed coaches this fall with his athleticism. Josh Frazier is a candidate to step up from backup to key rotational player, and the team might need such a transformation if Tomlinson isn’t healthy soon.

3. Wide receiver spots are still up for grabs. Robert Foster has shined brightly at fall camp to basically be the third option in the receiving corps. Still, who fills in after that? Cam Sims was a prime candidate, but Sims has been dealing with injuries this week. Sims was forced to sit out Saturday’s scrimmage due to knee issues. Gehrig Dieter appears to be the top candidate, but Raheem Falkins is a possibility, as well as a slew of young talent. Then again, Sims might just return from injury in the coming week to earn the spot.

Source: Saturday Down South

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