Alabama Football: 5 Toughest QBs the Tide Will Battle in 2013
Alabama has dodged a bullet on the schedule and with the caliber of quarterbacks it will face this season. There won't be any matchups against Aaron Murray, James Franklin or even an athletic Jeff Driskel. The defense could have had a tougher task with the SEC quickly becoming a conference with potent quarterbacks.
Instead, the Tide will face many quarterbacks who have the ability to cause headaches but aren't quite there yet. The skill sets scream potential, but unless a player has shown consistency, it is tough to imagine a quarterback being productive against this Alabama defense.
Besides facing a Heisman Trophy winner, every quarterback Alabama faces is a question mark.
5. Tyler Russell, Mississippi State
Tyler Russell is your guy if you are looking for a quarterback to have a breakout season. He has gotten better over time and is now entering his senior year. It's really a make-or-break season for him, but he has the potential to surprise folks.
While Russell didn't amount to much in last year's meeting against Alabama, he did throw for 2,897 yards and 24 touchdowns. Russell stands in at 6'4", 220 pounds and has a strong enough arm to make all of the throws. He's a tough player who will stand in the pocket and isn't afraid to take a hit.
He could begin popping up on NFL draft boards if he continues to grow and develop as a passer. Alabama is well aware of his potential and will throw different looks at him in hopes of forcing a few mistakes.
4. Bo Wallace, Ole Miss
Last season, Bo Wallace was a first-year player who showed potential.
He completed a solid 63.9 percent of his passes for 2,994 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also showed solid athleticism, rushing for eight touchdowns and averaging nearly three yards a carry.
Wallace must improve his interception total of 17, two of which came against Alabama. While he did lead the SEC in interceptions, he finished the final three games with a combined 10 touchdown passes. He improved as the season carried on and should be ready to have a breakout season for a young Ole Miss team.
The Rebels couldn't get going against the Tide last season. That may change, assuming Wallace continues to improve.
3. Zach Mettenberger, LSU
Something got into Zach Mettenberger last season when he played Alabama.
A quarterback who struggled with consistency and wasn't much of a factor early on was able to throw for 298 yards and complete 68.6 percent of his passes against the Tide. That included picking on top cornerback Dee Milliner several times.
Can Mettenberger do it again? You bet.
Mettenberger showed promise since that Alabama game, throwing for more than 200 yards in three of the final four games. He had a little more pep in his step and was starting to look like a real quarterback. Now, he has Cam Cameron as an offensive coordinator, who will be able to help open up the vertical passing game.
LSU had the most passing yards on Alabama's defense last year. Mettenberger is a legitimate threat.
2. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Get the laughs out of the way now.
Logan Thomas may have been the biggest disappointment in college football last year. Still, he remains a legit NFL quarterback prospect. His size, at 6'6", 260 pounds, strong arm and his ability to make plays with his legs are intriguing. That same skill set is the reason many scouts had him near the top of last year's NFL draft board.
Thomas was an interception machine last year, throwing 16 and only completing 51.3 percent of his passes. However, he still has limitless potential and could start to show positive signs with this being his last shot at the collegiate level. After all, he returned for his senior year to prove the critics wrong.
There is a chance Thomas falls flat for the second straight year, but Alabama isn't taking him lightly. You shouldn't either.
1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Johnny Manziel had a field day in last year's meeting against Alabama. But Tide fans can't feel bad considering the reigning Heisman winner had the same type of performance against most of the teams he played.
Manziel passed for 253 yards, rushed for 92 yards and scored two touchdowns. His impressive play had a lot to do with Texas A&M upsetting the Crimson Tide and nearly knocking them out of the national championship picture.
Having already proven he can be successful against Nick Saban and company, Manziel is clearly the most dangerous quarterback Alabama will face all season. His dual-threat ability is tricky to defend, and he now has even more offensive weapons to work with.
Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart have likely spent countless sleepless nights designing a game plan for Manziel. It will come in handy if Alabama wants to win the SEC and position itself for a three-peat.