I think it was pretty obvious on Saturday that Blake Sims performed the best of the two quarterbacks. He was crisp, efficient and looked in control of the team. When Jake Coker finally took the field, the contrast was even more clear. Sims is our best quarterback right now and it’s not really even close.
But following the game, coach Nick Saban indicated that there was still a quarterbacking competition. The reasons he gave made sense, I guess, but we are still left to wonder why? Why is there still a competition when one guy looks so much better than the other? Well, here are a few ideas as to why.
First, the sample size is relatively small. There was the A-Day game and, of course, only Sims played that day. Then there was a decently tough opener against West Virginia. I think it made sense to play only Sims that day. From a fan’s vantage point, he was moving the team and there really wasn’t a drive to spare. We could not afford to sputter given how our defense was playing. And then there was the FAU game.
Given this small sample size, it is very realistic that the level of play between these inexperienced players could fluctuate rather wildly. Remember back to the second quarter of the WVU game? Sims was close to being yanked. Remember the early second half fumble against FAU? That was clearly a situation where the QB wasn’t on the same page with the other players.
Accordingly, Sims earned the start against FAU and, I believe, was charged with winning the game. That wasn’t a big task, but still, his assignment in the game plan was to “get the win.” The scouting report on FAU, at least according to Phil Savage on the pre-game show was to attack the Owls on the edges. That’s clearly what Sims did by frequently hitting the swing passes and screens on the edge. And it worked.
Had Coker started the game (and had FAU been a legitimate opponent), I believe he would have done the same thing. That wasn’t the case, however. He was able to enter the game after it was well in hand and, in essence, had a tryout. He was given a chance to run the full offense with the first team. This resulted in many more down field passes and plays that were more dynamic than the ones specifically designed to beat the Owls.
Coker’s performance was spotty. He missed open reads and misfired on several throws. He also botched a two-minute drill. But as his playing time increased, he looked a lot more comfortable running the show. And that should make for a better performance this week against Southern Miss.
I’ve heard varying reports about the quarterback competition this fall. Of course, from the media we’ve heard that it was neck and neck. If that was the case, it makes sense to give the guy with the greater upside the chance to win the job. On the other hand, I’ve heard from scrimmage observers that Coker didn’t look as good as Sims behind closed doors as well. Based on that, it’s hard to understand why there is still a competition.
I like Sims and I have the feeling that the coaching staff likes him as well. He should be proud of his improvement and the job he’s done so far this season. But something tells me the coaching staff is afraid of him hitting his ceiling and being unable to take this team beyond a certain point. If that’s the case, they are getting Coker ready to take the reins at that point.
We’ll see, I guess.