With 12 days remaining until Alabama football kicks off in Dallas, the Crimson Tide have yet to announce a starting quarterback and nothing seems to be progressing. One day it’s rumored that Jacob Coker will start. Then he suffers a minor foot injury and suddenly it became David Cornwell’s job to lose. Now there have been rumors of Cornwell transferring elsewhere, while Nick Saban’s positive comments on Alec Morris made people think that the job now belong to the junior from Allen, Texas. With names constantly being thrown in and out of contention for the starting role, Jake Coker’s has consistently been there. Here are five reasons why Coker will be the starter for Alabama in 2015.
This is the number one thing that Jake Coker has going for him. His experience is what sets him above all the younger candidates because of what he has done at Florida State and what he did last season as the backup in Tuscaloosa. Coker has been in these situations before, losing quarterback battles to the likes of Jameis Winston and Blake Sims. The senior threw for 403 yards and four touchdowns last season while completing 64.4 percent of his passes without throwing an interception. His numbers were a very small sample size but that may be all the Crimson Tide need for success in 2015. Coker gives Lane Kiffin a smart quarterback that makes good decisions and can take of the ball. The Crimson Tide hope that the playmakers they have in the backfield and at receiver will make the difference. Last season, Coker tried to come into a new system with high expectations and he ended up losing the starting battle that many saw him as a favorite. Fortunately, what fans saw from Blake Sims made it seem more like Sims won the job rather than Coker losing the job. This year, Coker is the favorite in a system he should be familiar with now.
2. Name recognition
When people around the nation think about Alabama’s starting quarterback battle, people always say it’s Jake Coker against the field. Coker has that name that has already been attached to the words “Alabama quarterback.” It all started in the summer of 2014 before his transfer was even official. Coker was going to be the next signal caller for the Crimson Tide and everything was going to work out. Clearly, it has not yet for him but it gives a player confidence to see your name before anyone else’s. That being said, Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin don’t care at all about who is more popular. However, a quarterback that plays with confidence can become the clear pick and Coker just may have that.
3. Player Relationships
When a quarterback has good relationships with his receivers or offensive line, it’s hard to break up that connection. Coker seems to have made those types of connections with many of the offensive players and seems to have a favorite target already. Coker linked up with ArDarius Stewart for his first touchdown pass last season and threw another one to him in the 2015 spring game in April. Coker spent much of last season with this year’s new receiving core. Sims had Amari Cooper, Christion Jones and DeAndrew White as favorite targets and they are all now gone. Coker has Stewart, Chris Black, Robert Foster and Ty Flournoy-Smith returning. Those four guys will become huge weapons during their second year with Coker at the realm. The Mobile-native also has a good connection with the Tide’s starting center, Ryan Kelly. The two have been roommates for more than a year now and could make communication much easier on the field.
4. Coach Relationships
Coker’s relationships extend beyond the guys on the field with him. When Alabama announced that Kiffin would be returning for 2015, many saw it as a great sign for Coker and for good reason. Coker now knows the system and knows exactly what his offensive coordinator is looking for without starting again on a fresh slate. Coker was next to Kiffin’s side for much of the season and probably learned a lot about what exactly needed to happen from the quarterback position. Kiffin is the official Alabama quarterbacks coach but Coker has learned even more from longtime quarterback coach David Morris. Morris has worked with the likes of A.J. McCarron, Matt Barkley and Eli Manning. Coker has been working with Morris since Coker was a junior in high school and Morris has talked about the improvements Coker has made, saying that he is ready for the starting job in Tuscaloosa.
It’s already been stated that Coker has been the leading man for the job in Tuscaloosa for awhile now. However, doubts keep flying about whether Coker can actually lead Alabama to a championship this year and maybe Saban should look at a player for the future instead. Coker knows all this talk and will be looking to prove himself in every way. Losing two quarterback battles in the past will motivate him to find a way to make the difference in the final week of practice. Coker will be the starter for the Crimson Tide this season and can lead the offense close to what they were in 2014.
Caleb Turrentine is a contributor at Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Follow him on Twitter,@CalebTurrentine.