Alabama Creates More Mystery Around QB Jacob Coker at SEC Media Days

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJuly 21, 2014

Alabama QB Jacob Coker
Alabama QB Jacob CokerStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

If you expected clarity at SEC media days in Hoover, Alabama regarding the biggest question mark in the conference, you were probably disappointed.

The veil of mystery in front of Alabama quarterback Jacob Coker wasn't raised as head coach Nick Saban, wide receivers Amari Cooper and Christion Jones and safety Landon Collins made the rounds at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham.

In fact, the representatives created more mystery in the way they answered Coker questions.

Nov 17, 2012; College Park, MD, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jacob Coker (14) prior to the game against the Maryland Terrapins at Byrd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

What do we know about Coker?

He's big—6'5", 230 pounds—has a big arm and theoretically pushed eventual Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston for the starting quarterback job at Florida State last year, which is more likely to be a motivational tool for Winston than a compliment to Coker.

The biggest thing we learned from media days is that—breaking news—he's not former quarterback AJ McCarron.

"He has a different release, his timing, his release, he has a lot of small things that are different about him," Jones said. "That doesn't mean he has to change, it just means we have to adjust.

"In my opinion, there are no similarities [between former starter AJ McCarron and Coker]," Jones added. "He's his own player. He drops back different. He looks different. His arm release is different. They really aren't comparable. It's totally different."

Cooper echoed the sentiments.

"He's big, he's tall, he has a strong arm, he's smart and he takes command in the huddle when we are in seven-on-seven, which are all qualities you want to have in a quarterback," Cooper said. "I'm waiting on camp to come to see how he progresses in camp."

Alabama WR Amari Cooper
Alabama WR Amari CooperUSA TODAY Sports

A new NCAA rule allowed Saban and the rest of the Alabama staff to work with players during summer conditioning for up to 10 hours per week. You'd think that would be enough time for Saban to get a little bit of insight into who Coker is as a player.

When asked to explain some of Coker's strengths and weaknesses, Saban answered in depth—about senior quarterback Blake Sims.

Look, I don't want to minimize the other quarterbacks in our program who have been there and worked hard trying to develop and compete for the job. I'll just say that Blake Sims is a senior who did a great job in the spring. He didn't have a great spring game, but we didn't really do the things that he could do. This is an open competition, and Jacob is going to get every opportunity to win the job. He has handled everything extremely well. He's a hard worker who engages well with the players.

The goal for Alabama's contingent at media days was simple—keep the mystery around Coker up as long as possible, and if possible, create more—as evidenced by Saban's reluctance to give any credit to Coker just yet.

Saban says the starting QB spot is still not Jacob Coker’s. Earlier he said Coker’s FSU knowledge gives him edge over younger players #Bama

— Edward Aschoff (@AschoffESPN) July 17, 2014

Mission accomplished.

Butch Dill/Associated Press/Associated Press

These aren't necessarily uncharted waters for Alabama.

A quarterback battle was looming on the horizon even during the 2012 season, when it wasn't set in stone that McCarron would come back for 2013. But the combination of no proven backup and a graduate transfer with very little game experience and none in meaningful situations has sent the quarterback position to the other end of the pendulum this offseason.

McCarron stabilized it. Now it's littered with uncertainty.

Quite the swing for the most high-profile position on the most prestigious program in college football.

You couple the quarterback uncertainty with the arrival of new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, and it can't be a comforting feeling for Alabama fans. The former USC coach let a quarterback battle wage two weeks into the season in 2013. Not coincidentally, he was looking for work a few weeks later after being dismissed by the Trojans.

The silver lining for Coker, Sims and Alabama is that whoever wins the job doesn't have to win football games. All he has to do is be a caretaker. The deep and talented running back corps coupled with the wealth of receiving weapons will allow the Tide to stay old-school, pound the rock and take advantage of play-action.

If Jones is right and Coker is smart, that will be enough for Alabama to be successful. If he's not, that Florida defense will be looming late in September and may give Alabama a tougher game than envisioned.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.


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