Three post-SEC Media Days thoughts:
For McCarron and Sims, fall camp scrimmages may not be enough to determine a starter.
Actually, in saying nothing, he did say something. When asked where the competition between A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims currently "stands", he offered up a curt "It doesn't stand anywhere" like only Saban can.
Usually when a coach says in late July that the job is still up for grabs, ulterior motives are at work. Maybe he's already got a starter in mind but he's trying to keep the top guy motivated. Or, perhaps, he's hoping to keep the projected backup from becoming the projected starter at another school in a year's time.
Four months ago, I would have agreed that one or both of those scenarios were reasons for keeping the competition "open" heading into fall camp. Not now. Well, not in terms of how close the competition really is, anyway.
Believe it or not, this is one of those rare cases where an August competition at the game's most important position will be real. Adding to the intrigue will be the possibility of fall camp scrimmages not being enough to identify the next multi-year starter.
Saban indicated on Friday that the competition will likely carry over into the regular season saying, "It will be interesting to see who plays better in the game, because we feel like both guys have done a really good job and both guys are talented enough to be very, very successful quarterbacks for our team."
In other words, Mr. August may not be Mr. September and that's not just some July coach speak.
*If you're waiting for the next Marcell Dareus to magically appear between now and Sept. 3, Saban thinks it might not be wise to hold your breath. Based on his most recent comments, the lack of a dominant inside pass rusher may force the 2011 defense to depend heavily on the back seven to rush the quarterback.
While that's to be expected where Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower are concerned, you get the feeling safeties and cornerbacks will play a larger role in Kirby Smart's pressure packages than an inexperienced secondary did a season ago.
Still, a threat inside needs to emerge or handling Upshaw, Hightower and UA's assortment of blitzes won't be as difficult to handle. With opposing offenses focused on the edges, guys like Damion Square, Nick Gentry, Jesse Williams and Quinton Dial should see their fair share of one-on-one opportunities.
*You know a team is going to be the overwhelming pick to win the SEC when not only 12 of its 16 returning starters are named to the media's preseason all-SEC team, but two 2010 "reserves" -- running back Trent Richardson and linebacker C.J. Mosley -- make the squad as well.
In terms of identifying the league's best teams, I thought the media predictions for the 2011 order of finish were on the mark. But while I agree that South Carolina is the best team in the East, it's obvious that Georgia is the best Eastern division team with the most favorable Western division slate.
The Bulldogs won't see Alabama, LSU and Arkansas from the West in 2011, while Florida will face Alabama and LSU and South Carolina will travel to Arkansas. As for the West, while Alabama and LSU are equals when it comes to talent, UA hosting the Tigers in Tuscaloosa is reason enough to pick Alabama to win the division (and, by extension, conference and BCS titles, as well).