The Alabama Crimson Tide will take the field this season missing a key component. For the first time in four years, the Tide will not have A.J. McCarron starting at quarterback.
McCarron was never one to put up huge numbers, but he was certainly much more than just a game manager. Teams don’t win national championships with game managers at quarterback. And McCarron won two BCS titles, so that argument holds little value.
Now, with McCarron gone, many in the media have handed the starting quarterback job to Jacob Coker, a transfer who played for the Florida State Seminoles last season. Coker was the backup to Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, and since he was unlikely to get much time on the field, he elected to transfer to Tuscaloosa.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban and new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin are excited to have Coker on the squad. But neither Saban nor Kiffin have said that Coker will be the starter this season.
In the worst case scenario, Coker could struggle against Southeastern Conference defenses, and/or could take time to adapt to being the first-team quarterback.
If either, or both of those things happen, Blake Sims could become an important factor for the Tide in 2014. Sims has playing experience, and while he has yet to prove he can be a consistent passer, he has shown that he can move the ball, especially with his legs. Sims could be a nice change of pace for Kiffin in the offensive scheme, and that could also help take some pressure off of Coker.
Sims does not have the skillset to be the regular starter for Alabama. However, he could be key as Coker develops this season. Having Sims as a reliable backup could definitely benefit Alabama this season.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.