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Will Jake Coker Finally Take the Reins of Alabama’s Offense?

All the stars aligned for Jake Coker to take over the Alabama offense in 2014. The former FSU quarterback transferred weeks after his former team’s BCS Championship win and looked to be the heir to departing starter AJ McCarron.

It would’ve been a familiar story for Coker, who attended St. Paul’s Episcopal High School in Mobile, Alabama and replaced the departing McCarron as a junior.

Instead, senior Blake Sims was announced as the Tide’s starter hours before the season opener against West Virginia.

Coker has always been in the “wrong place at the wrong time.” He was beaten out by Jameis Winston just before the then-redshirt freshman’s historic Heisman Trophy winning season. In 2014, Sims went on to set the Alabama single-season passing record with 3,487 yards, along with 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Coker finds himself as the preseason favorite once again in 2015. He faces two underclassmen in Alec Morris and Cooper Bateman — who is also taking reps with the wide receivers should he lose the battle.

“Over the summer, and in fall camp, we’re going to need to establish, ‘OK, here’s the guy,’ head coach Nick Saban told the Montgomery Advertiser. “But somebody’s got to take the bulls by the horn and do that too. It’s not for us to give away, it’s for somebody to earn.”

This is Coker’s final opportunity to secure the role of starting quarterback. Morris, Bateman and incoming freshman Blake Barnett all have multiple years of remaining eligibility.
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Coker will have to take advantage of his chance to start given there is plenty of young talent on the depth chart behind him.

He also benefits from Alabama having another team loaded with talent, despite losing several players to the NFL Draft. Coker enters an offense built on recruiting classes ranked in the top-5 every year since 2008 and No. 1 overall since 2011.
Coker has the tools to excel as an SEC quarterback, but will need to work through growing pains and gain experience. Much like Sims, his first few games could be a struggle, but he should show improvement as the season progresses.
Alabama proved to have the best turnover of quarterbacks since Saban’s arrival in 2007. John Parker Wilson was replaced by Greg McElroy, who was succeeded by McCarron who was followed by Sims. Each player provided an even greater individual output than his predecessor.
Lane Kiffin’s offense proved to benefit the quarterback and Coker should excel. With several former five-star running backs, including fringe superstar Derrick Henry, the quarterback’s maturation process will be a smooth transition and should end with the Tide competing for another SEC Championship.

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