With only four days remaining until West Virginia’s season opener Saturday in Atlanta, it’s still unclear on who will line opposite senior quarterback Clint Trickett for the Alabama Crimson Tide, whether it be senior Blake Sims or junior Florida State transfer Jake Coker.
The preparation for which quarterback Alabama ends up settling on to get the start against West Virginia is made more difficult as past game film is hard to come by during the two Crimson Tide signal caller’s careers.
“Neither one of them has taken a bunch of snaps,” said Holgorsen of Sims and Coker serving largely as backups for starters AJ McCarron and Jameis Winston a year ago. Sims completed 18-of-29 for 167 yards and two touchdowns in eight appearances for Alabama, while Coker played in six games for Florida State, completing 18-of-36 for 250 yards and an interception.
“They’re not the same quarterback,” Holgorsen said. “Sims has a little more athleticism to him, where Coker is a bigger, more pocket-type guy. Again, we have to be aware of who they are, as far as elusiveness of one. And, don’t want to say lack thereof with the other one. There is only so much you can prepare for.”
Alabama head coach Nick Saban spoke on where Sims and Coker stand in terms of the starting role and how the process of picking a starter will be done ahead of Saturday’s season opener in Atlanta.
“We’re going to continue to rep both guys,” Saban said during his news conference. “We feel like both guys have been doing a very, very good job. Obviously somebody has to start the game. We’ll make that decision probably at some point in time this week.”
“I think both guys are doing a good job right now. We’re going to continue to try to develop both of those players at this point.”
Coker resembles more of the type of quarterback Holgorsen and West Virginia faced through most of last season, which will more likely stand in the pocket and deliver the ball to a receiver than take off to try to make a big play with his legs during the game. West Virginia’s improved pass rush, which ranked 107th in the nation in sacks last year, could give Sims a better chance to play Saturday to help avoid players like Shaq Riddick, Nick Kwiatkoski and Brandon Golson to disrupt the offense and force Alabama to punt the ball back to West Virginia.
While still important to ultimately know who’ll lead the Alabama offense, Holgorsen has not forgotten to focus on the playmakers that will assist the starting quarterback, like juniors Amari Cooper and TJ Yeldon that both received first team all-SEC honors this offseason.
“Now, there is a whole bunch of film on the other guys, and they know exactly what they’re getting,” Holgorsen said. “Some of these receivers, they know exactly what they’re getting – the running backs, the tight ends and the offensive line as well.”
Holgorsen and West Virginia, as a whole, know exactly what will be facing them whether Sims or Coker start on Saturday – the football program’s toughest test in recent memory.