Alabama's Nick Saban forgoes depth chart to avoid 'distractions'

Stephen A.: Saban needs to beat Smart again (2:38)

Stephen A. Smith lays out why Nick Saban needs to beat Kirby Smart again to reaffirm he's the best head coach in the SEC. (2:38)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Not only did Alabama coach Nick Saban neglect to name a starting quarterback Monday, but he also neglected to release a depth chart in any form.

It was the first time in Saban's 17 seasons with the Crimson Tide that he didn't release a formal depth chart the week of the season opener.

Alabama will host Middle Tennessee on Saturday.

Saban said a formal list of starters and backups "creates a lot of distractions" within the locker room.

"And quite frankly, you know, we don't need that," he added. "I want all of our players to continue to compete, continue to compete for playing time, to try to play at the highest level. And I don't want anybody on our team to think they're a backup player or whatever."

Saban apologized for not releasing a depth chart, but he said that players know who should start and who shouldn't.

Asked whether he had an expectation to play one or multiple quarterbacks against Middle Tennessee, Saban shot back, "I don't have any expectation."

"We're going one day at a time," Saban said. "We're repping the players. And regardless of what happens in this game ... just because whoever starts in the first game that doesn't mean that you don't have to continue to compete and play throughout the season because the competition doesn't end like the first game at any position, including quarterback."

Jalen Milroe, Ty Simpson and Tyler Buchner have been vying to replace Bryce Young after the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner was selected No. 1 overall in the NFL draft.

Milroe, a redshirt sophomore, backed up Young last season. He started one game and completed 31 of 53 pass attempts for 297 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.

A dual-threat athlete, Milroe also rushed for 263 yards and a touchdown.

"I think Jalen has made a significant amount of improvement," Saban said. "I think he's more comfortable in the pocket. I think that he has more confidence in the way he executes and the way he plays. And I think that's going to be the key to the drill for him to be able to maintain that consistency in every practice so that he's developing the kind of habits that are going to carry over in the game and help him be successful."

Simpson, a former four-star prospect who redshirted last season, appeared in four games. He completed 4 of 5 passes for 35 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.

Buchner played for new Alabama offensive coordinator Tommy Rees at Notre Dame and transferred to the Crimson Tide after spring practice.

Buchner played in 13 games over the last two seasons, starting three times. He's thrown six touchdown passes and eight interceptions in his career.

Further down the depth chart, Alabama also has the No. 5 and No. 6-ranked pocket passers in the 2023 class in Eli Holstein and Dylan Lonergan.

The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide will host Texas in a Week 2 matchup on Sept. 9.