As we sit here just about a week until the 2014 college football season starts it’s hard to believe that the number two team in the country, the Alabama Crimson Tide, still do not know who their starting quarterback will be.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are about to enter a season without A.J. McCarron for the first time since 2010. The Tide experienced three of their best seasons in program history from 2011-2013 with McCarron under center, but now they have to turn the page on that era and start the 2014 season with an inexperienced quarterback.
The Crimson Tide got arguably the top transfer in the nation this year when Florida State’s backup quarterback Jacob Coker decided to enroll at Alabama. Coker was the backup to last year’s Heisman Trophy winner and national title winning quarterback Jameis Winston. Coker knew he would not see any meaningful playing time behind Winston at Florida State and decided to take his talents to Alabama and play for Nick Saban.
Coker entered Alabama with tons of hype because of his physical tools and potential. The problem with that statement is that it is just that “potential.” Coker was expected to come in and automatically win the starting job from day one, but that has been anything but the case.
Fellow Alabama quarterback Blake Sims has impressed coaches with his knowledge of the system and the comfort that teammates have with him. Sims is a senior that has waited his time behind McCarron the past several seasons and now has his shot at being the starting quarterback for Alabama.
Sims chemistry, knowledge and understanding of what Saban wants to do on offense have certainly had its benefits during fall camp. Sims still will likely be beat out by Coker in the long run, but it won’t be without a fight right up until Alabama’s first game on August 30 against West Virginia.
The question is who should be the starter for Alabama come opening day against West Virginia? I believe Coker should be the starter because of what he is capable of, but if Sims proves to be more of a fit for Alabama’s offense he should get the job. Coker, in my mind, will eventually win the starting job and in some ways Saban may just be giving Sims a fighter’s chance because of the time he has spent as a backup.
I feel we will see both Sims and Coker get significant playing time in their season opener against West Virginia. This situation reminds me of the start of the 2011 season when the Tide were coming into a season having to replace Greg McElroy.
The Tide played Phillip Sims and A.J. McCarron in their season opener against Kent State in 2011 to help better determine who should be the starter for the 2011 season. Sims and McCarron both played nearly a half and the coaches were able to get a better idea of how each reacted in game speed situations. As we all know McCarron won the starting job and as they say the rest is history.
I believe Saban will do the same in this situation with Blake Sims and Jacob Coker when they play West Virginia in week one. The ability to perform under the bright lights will be what ultimately wins the job for either Coker or Sims. That will be shown in week one and like in 2011 with Phillip Sims and McCarron the starter will ultimately come to the forefront.
Saban and Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin probably know deep down who will be the starting quarterback, but don’t want to rush to a conclusion without seeing both in live game action. This quarterback battle at Alabama is intriguing, but will surely play itself out and the Tide will be one of the best teams in the country as usual.