While Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jacob Coker hasn’t officially been named the starter, he has certainly been assumed the role by many prognosticators. However, whether it’s Coker or fifth-year senior Blake Sims in command, the quarterback battle won’t make or break the Tide’s chances at winning the SEC West in 2014.
For the first time in a few years there is a bit of uncertainty behind center. However, through the years, an expectation has been berthed for Bama to simply reload. So why should this season be any different? Sims will be battling Coker for the starting role; both are highly talented QBs with differing strengths.
Sims is a great dual-threat talent with four years of experience in the offense, and even with new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin leading the way, he has familiarity with the system.
Florida State Seminoles transfer Jacob Coker is a perfect fit for the Alabama offense. He has highly touted arm strength and owns enough athleticism to contribute on the ground.
The Tide has 25 practices before opening the season against the West Virginia Mountaineers on Aug. 30. Head coach Nick Saban has wisely derailed answering who is the potential starter. But with a running game that could bring down Olympus, will the decision also carry the fate of 2014?
Alabama is blessed with a plethora of running backs, each of which would be the number one guy anywhere else. Ranking 25th nationally in 2013, the rushing attack was dangerous not just from a yardage standpoint. No matter who ran with the ball, opposing defenses had to always account for each back.
T.J. Yeldon is easily one of the best running backs in the nation, collecting 1,235 yards and 14 touchdowns last year. The threat to defensive coordinators continues with Derrick Henry, who had a breakout game against the Oklahoma Sooners, and depending on the length of suspension, Kenyan Drake. Even if Drake isn’t available right away, Altee Tenpenny, Jalston Fowler and incoming freshman Bo Scarbrough are all capable of stepping in.
Bama’s ground game has remained in the top five of the SEC every year since 2008, and while there might be some uncertainty on the offensive line, an unproven player on a Crimson Tide roster is still better than what most programs have in their starters with regards to talent.
The biggest aspect of the decision to start Sims or Coker rests in their ability to limit mistakes. Why was AJ McCarron so effective in his collegiate career? It wasn’t due to his undeniable pro-level talent. He simply didn’t make a habit of committing poor passes. That’s the key for a successful national championship season. It doesn’t lay solely on the shoulders of the field general. With the talent Alabama possesses, all that’s needed is a QB who can manage mistake-free football to go along with a punishing running game.