Blake Sims

Coker gets start for ‘Bama vs. Wisky, but two QBs will play

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At least for the moment, Alabama has a starting quarterback.

Shortly before Alabama’s game with Wisconsin kicked off, Nick Saban confirmed that Florida State transfer Jake Coker will get the start under center in the neutral-field non-conference matchup with Wisconsin.  Coker had been involved in a spring practice- and summer camp-long battle with, among others, Cooper Bateman and Alec Morris.

In the same pregame interview, the Tide head coach revealed that Bateman will also play, intimating that the quarterback competition is still an ongoing battle between the two.

After losing the quarterback competition to Jameis Winston in 2013, Coker transferred from the Seminoles following that season.  He spent the 2014 season as Blake Sims‘ primary backup after losing out in a competition with the senior.

Bateman, a four-star 2013 signee, served as the Tide’s primary holder on extra points and field goals after redshirting as a true freshman.

CFT 2015 Preseason Preview: SEC Predictions

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As the 2015 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we will be examining the home of the defending national champion, the Big Ten. 

And while we’re at it, check out some of our other Power Five conference predictions HERE (ACC), HERE (Big 12) and HERE (Big Ten) as the CFT team continues to take its month-long glimpse of the upcoming season.

SEC EAST

1. Georgia (10-3; beat Louisville in Belk Bowl)
There is one certainty when it comes to the East: UGA will not finish lower than third, a low-water benchmark for each of Mark Richt‘s 14 seasons in Athens that has included five division titles — none since 2012, though.  They return the most talent of any team in the division, although the fact that they opted for Grayson Lambert as the starting quarterback has me second-guessing my prediction.  It’s been a decade since UGA’s last SEC championship, and if they’re going to get back to that level they’ll have to do so with a schedule that includes both Alabama and Auburn as well as a road trip to Tennessee.  Still, anything less than an East title and a spot in the SEC championship game would be decidedly disappointing — and would lead to yet another offseason of “is it time to go in another direction?” speculation.

2. Tennessee (7-6; beat Iowa in Taxslayer Bowl)
Am I a year early with this lofty projection?  Possibly, especially given the team right below them.  Still, there’s no denying that Butch Jones has stuffed his talent cupboard after the barren years under his predecessor, Derek Dooley.  The Vols closed out last year on a positive note, going 4-1 down the stretch — the lone loss coming by eight to Mizzou — capping it off with an impressive 45-28 win over the Hawkeyes in the bowl game.  That final flourish coincided with Josh Dobbs‘ ascension as the starting quarterback.  With the scintillating playmaker poised to build off his first season at this level, the Vols could very well challenge both UGA and Mizzou for East supremacy.

3. Missouri (11-3; beat Minnesota in Citrus Bowl)
“Here we go again, denigrating the two-time defending East champion Tigers.” — the two Mizzou fans who frequent this site, probably.  And, actually, that’s an understandable reaction, given how the Tigers have been the class of the division the past two seasons.  They’re also one of the few teams in the conference that returns its starting quarterback.  Still, there are concerns along the defensive line — they return just five starters on that side of the ball, period — and their schedule doesn’t do them very many favors as they play at Georgia and Arkansas as well as play host to Mississippi State.  It wouldn’t shock me, though, if Mizzou made it three straight titles.  In fact, the only thing that would shock the system is if they finish outside the top three in the division.

(more…)

Ex-‘Bama QB (again) named as Toledo’s starter

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An injury derailed Phillip Ely‘s first season in Toledo. Fortunately, he’s going to get another go at it.

The Rockets confirmed Monday that Ely will start the program’s opener this Thursday against Stony Brook. The move comes a handful of days after Ely was named as one of four UT captains for the 2015 season.  Ely beat out Logan Woodside, who went 8-2 as a starter for the Rockets last season.

Woodside took over as the starter because of the injury to Ely, a torn ACL sustained in the second game of the season. Ely had been named as the starter ahead of Woodside a couple of weeks prior to the start of the 2014 season.

He passed for 337 yards in his first UT start, then threw for 204 yards against Missouri the following week before to sustaining the knee injury in the third quarter.

Ely began his collegiate career at Alabama in 2011 as a three-star recruit. After redshirting as a true freshman, Ely played in six games in 2012, completing three-of-four passes for 42 yards and a touchdown in very limited duty. Ely was listed as the No. 2 QB the first three weeks of the 2012 season, but after that was listed as the co-backup to AJ McCarron along with redshirt sophomore Blake Sims.

In January of 2013 it was reported Ely was looking to transfer from the Tide. The summer of that year he transferred into the Rockets football program.  He sat out the 2013 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

Ely’s official return to the starting spot came the same day it was announced that two Rockets had been suspended for the first two games of the season, including 2014 MAC rushing leader Kareem Hunt.

‘Bama, FSU not quite ready to pull trigger on naming starter at QB

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Texas did it, Ohio State won’t, while two other big-name programs have decided to push it back.

The “it” in this case is publicly naming a starting quarterback, and both Alabama and Florida State were afforded the opportunity at press conferences Monday to go public with a decision. In both cases, the respective head coaches declined.

On the Tide’s depth chart that was released today, all five of their scholarship quarterbacks were included on the two-deep: Jake Coker, Cooper Bateman and Alex Morris — in that order — were listed as the co-starters, with Blake Barnett and David Cornwell separated by a slash; some, it should be noted, have speculated that all five were listed as co-starters. At various points throughout summer camp, Coker, the FSU transfer, has been viewed by the media as the front-runner… as has Bateman… as has Morris.

Lat year, Nick Saban waited until a couple of hours before the opener against West Virginia to anoint Blake Sims as the starter over Coker. If Saban decides to go public with the choice, expect a similar timeline prior to this year’s opener against Wisconsin Saturday.

Conversely, FSU could make its decision as early as today.

Jimbo Fisher, who said he’s already made a decision, will opt between a pair of experienced/familiar options, last year’s backup Sean Maguire and Notre Dame grad transfer Everett Golson. Because of his experience with the Irish, some (most?) have pegged Golson as the likely starter. Still others have stated that, due to his familiarity with the system, Maguire is the man to beat.

So, what’s Jimbo’s timeline for a decision to clear up the clutter?

Fisher added that, once the decision is made, he’s sticking with it.

FSU will open the 2015 season at home against Texas State Saturday.

Jake Coker returns to Alabama QB competition after injury ‘scare’

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Seemingly, it really was much ado about nothing.

Monday, head coach Nick Saban stated that “Jake Coker has a minor foot injury that we think will keep him out of practice for several days.”  As it turns out, “several days” ended up being “a couple of days” as the quarterback returned to practice two days after sustaining the injury.

Below are a couple of local media accounts of how Coker looked in his return after the very brief sabbatical, first from al.com and then the Anniston Star:

The fifth-year quarterback was the first quarterback to go through drills, and looked good through most of them. At times Coker struggled on his follow-through and accuracy but he delivered multiple on-the-money passes including one longer pass to Chris Black. A trainer was in Coker’s ear a few times throughout the practice, but the Alabama quarterback seemed to be moving around fine during the drills.

After working with a trainer on Tuesday, Jake Coker (foot) was back with the quarterbacks today. Coker was at the front of the line, and looked fine when dropping back and throwing the ball.

Coker, who transferred to Alabama from Florida State in January of 2014, was expected by many to win UA’s starting job last year; instead, Blake Sims won it and ran with it in helping to lead the Tide to a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff.  This year as part of a multi-man quarterback competition, Coker, the only one of the group to have thrown a pass at the collegiate level, has again failed (as of yet) to grab the starting job by the throat against the likes of true freshman Blake Barnett, redshirt sophomore Cooper Bateman, redshirt freshman David Cornwell and junior Alec Morris.