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Alabama's QB race still even

Saturday did little to show us who has the upper hand in Alabama’s quarterback race.

Redshirt sophomore A.J. McCarron and redshirt freshman Phillip Sims carried their intense battle into and through Saturday’s annual Golden Flake A-Day spring game.

With both players splitting first-team reps during practice, each spent a half with the first-team offense Saturday.

McCarron finished with 222 yards with a touchdown and an interception on 21-of-38 passing, while Sims finished with 229 yards and an interception, on 19-of-38 passing.

It made for quite the exciting showing, but even as Alabama’s spring comes to an end, its situation under center is far from figured out.

“I thought both the quarterbacks showed some promise in terms of making good decisions,” coach Nick Saban said. “Both of them got picked, which probably wasn’t a good thing, but all in all, I thought they did a good job managing the game. We didn’t have a lot of issues, and they both showed that they have some ability to play the position and play winning football at the position. We were pleased with that.”

It’s not like Alabama’s in a bad situation. While McCarron has the only game experience – he played mostly in the late-game situations of nine games in 2010 – both players have grown as quarterbacks and leaders this spring.

Senior center William Vlachos said McCarron and Sims have matured immensely this spring. Both have become more vocal leaders in the huddle and both have really increased their football knowledge.

Both have quick releases and strong arms and can both use their feet to extend time in the pocket or scramble out.

When they aren’t going through progressions on the practice field, both can be found hanging out in the film room together breaking down each other and the defense.

Vlachos said he’s comfortable working with both quarterbacks and hasn’t really noticed much of a difference when either one is in.

Most importantly, Vlachos said he and his teammates trust having either one under center.

“In my mind, I can’t tell if there’s a leader or not,” Vlachos said. “They’ve both done extremely well. They’ve both become more vocal and more confident guys as the spring has gone on. They’re both starting to understand what’s expected of them and what they have to do to make our offense be successful.”

For McCarron, it seemed as though he was the starter-in-waiting during Greg McElroy’s final season. While Sims took reps with the scout team, McCarron threw for 389 yards and three touchdowns in 2010.

But when spring arrived, the Tide found a new and more polished Sims slinging the ball around on the first day of practice. From there, Alabama had a duel on its hands.

The starter likely won’t be named until fall camp, but these next few months could be the key to this battle. The coaches will have limited time with players, making team workouts that much more critical. The quarterback who uses his time wisely by getting out and throwing a little bit more and watching a few more minutes of film will enter the final round of testing with the upper hand.

As of now, Vlachos said he’d take either one to run the Tide’s offense and thinks this battle is exactly what Alabama needs heading into the offseason.

“It’s a great situation,” he said. “Competition makes everybody better.

“They both want a job and they know how important that job is. They’re doing everything in their power to do what they have to do to be successful.”