Sims-Coker QB battle undecided

  • Alex Scarborough [ARCHIVE]
  • ESPN.com | August 25, 2014
Nick Saban
AP Photo/Butch Dill

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama coach Nick Saban isn't ready to determine who his starting quarterback will be when the second-ranked Crimson Tide open their season against West Virginia on Saturday. In fact, he said he isn't in a position to say whether Blake Sims and Jake Coker will both see the field in Atlanta.

Blake Sims
AP Photo/Aaron M. SprecherBlake Sims, a fifth-year senior and veteran Alabama backup, has a familiarity with the offense that could help him as he tries to win the starting QB job.

"We're going to continue to rep both guys," Saban said Monday. "We feel like both guys have done a good job. Obviously someone has to start the game, so we'll make that decision sometime this week."

But whoever starts the opener might not finish it, Saban said.

"Whatever pitcher starts the game isn't necessarily going to pitch nine innings," he said.

Though the race has been narrowed to Sims and Coker, it's unclear who has the edge in the competition to replace AJ McCarron under center. Alabama's scrimmages haven't been open to the media and passing statistics have not been provided by the university during preseason camp, so no luck gleaning any information there.

Sims, however, is said to be more comfortable in the offense than Coker. The fifth-year senior and longtime backup to McCarron also has a better relationship with his teammates, according to Saban.

Coker has been playing catch-up since transferring from Florida State this summer. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound former backup to Jameis Winston is more of a prototypical passer compared to Sims, who has been primarily a read-option quarterback. But Coker has needed time to adjust to a new playbook and new set of receivers at Alabama.

"He doesn't have the same knowledge and experience," Saban said of Coker. "We're trying to get him more and more familiar so he can play with the rhythm we want offensively."

The quarterback battle can be looked as a glass either half full or half empty, Saban said.

"I do think competition is something that helps all players at any position," he said. "The one unique thing about the quarterback is you'd definitely like to get the rest of the offensive team sort of in sync with the guy that plays the position. So, to me, there's a big upside to two guys competing, and we feel both are doing well. But then the other side of that is the continuity you're trying to bring to the rest of your team."

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