Updates from Tuesday, Aug. 26
Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com reported the latest on Alabama's battle at the quarterback position:
Alabama's early-week plan is to play two quarterbacks on Saturday against West Virginia , with fifth-year senior Blake Sims the current favorite to start, CBSSports.com has learned.
Touted Florida State transfer Jacob Coker will play in the Georgia Dome, but he failed to create significant separation in Bama's quarterback race, and is expected to come off the bench.
Updates from Monday, Aug. 25
John Taylor of College Football Talk reported on Alabama's quarterback battle:
On the depth chart released Monday, the quarterback position was listed as follows: “6Blake Sims/14 Jacob Coker.” Presumably the players were listed in numerical order.
In discussing the position, Saban did allow that a decision would be made in the coming days. Whether that’ll become public knowledge before the opener against West Virginia is unknown.
The Alabama Crimson Tide have gotten to the point in recent years where anything less than a national football championship is considered somewhat disappointing. A critical ingredient to what has allowed the dynastic program to reign supreme in the difficult SEC is seamless transitions between quarterbacks.
Next up to lead Alabama in 2014 will either be fifth-year senior Blake Sims or redshirt junior Jacob Coker. Sims has been groomed in Tuscaloosa for his entire collegiate career and is finally getting a shot at the starting gig following A.J. McCarron's departure.
But the 6'5", 230-pound Coker complicates matters—and may even have the inside track on Sims. The Florida State transfer backed up first-round NFL draft pick E.J. Manuel before losing to Jameis Winston in a heated competition under center in 2013.
It's not something that I would hope would happen. Is it something that I can totally rule out? Not really because I think the skill set of Blake Sims can create problems for a defense. If we wanted to utilize him to do that in some kind of way, I guess you could say that we could possibly have a two-quarterback system.
Michael Carvell of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has the latest inside information as to what's transpiring internally:
Heard #Bama QB battle is dividing team. Many players support Blake Sims, while Jacob Coker is superior talent— Michael Carvell (@Carvell_AJC) July 30, 2014
That aligns with what AL.com's Andrew Gribble reported last month:
One thing is clear when talking to Alabama players: Blake Sims is very popular with teammates and respected for progress he's made.— Andrew Gribble (@Andrew_Gribble) July 17, 2014
Learning for three years under the complex pro-style offense FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher deploys had to help Coker's football IQ immensely. Now the Tide are operating a new system under first-year play-caller Lane Kiffin, which mitigates the advantage Sims may have had by sticking with Alabama for so long.
Fisher firmly believes that Coker is the right man to take over for the Tide.
"Including what they've had, he's much more talented than anything they've had," said Fisher, per TideSports.com's D.C. Reeves. "I don't mean to discredit the previous guys, they were all great. But this guy is extremely talented. Arm and mind."
Who should start at QB for Alabama in 2014?
While Coker does have some athleticism, he isn't quite the dual-threat dynamo Sims can be with his legs. In terms of passing from the pocket, though, Coker is the superior option at the moment.
Whichever way the Tide decide to turn, they can't really go wrong.
Junior T.J. Yeldon anchors yet another deep Alabama backfield, which also figures to feature Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry. Then, of course, Saban's teams tend to have dominant defenses year in and year out. It's been the bedrock of the Tide's SEC success and a big reason they've won three of the past five national titles.
Sims seems like more of a sentimental choice due to his loyalty to Alabama, along with the way he's making Saban delay a most important decision. In the end, the consensus seems to be that Coker is the one who will ascend to the top of the QB depth chart.
There may be a schism in the locker room if and when that decision is made. However, based on the rave reviews Coker draws, he should soon win over any teammates adamant that Sims should be under center.
At worst, Sims could have a special read-option package that he comes in for. With constant fresh legs out of Alabama's ball-carriers and Sims' threat to run, the Tide could get the best of both worlds with their current QB conundrum.