There are literally no discussions about the 2014 edition of the Alabama Crimson Tide that do not begin and end with, "... It all just depends on the quarterback." In general, we as novice football fans put far too much stock in quarterback play - even the author of this post recently wrote a loving piece about how 1994 was "The Year of Jay Barker" - and this fall seems to be no different. There are proven commodities at literally every other position this fall, and it looks like a team that could win 11 games on autopilot with no quarterback. For the season to be great, however, the signal-caller must be, as well.
OK, so here's the problem right off the bat with trying to come up with a HAWT BLAWG TAKE on this entire issue: We don't actually know anything about any of these guys. And the reality is, we won't know anything about them until Aug. 30 in Atlanta, when the hitting is live and the pressure is real. This is a coward's way out of my first post on this site, I know, but it's the truth.
In Coker's case, we know what his stats were before he came to Tuscaloosa, for whatever that is worth. We know that his former coach, Jimbo Fisher, called him "much more talented than anything they've had (at Alabama)." We know some of his current and former teammates have bestowed similar praise.
Beyond that, we as fans are more or less trusting that Nick Saban, et al, won't put the offense in the wrong hands (yes, Lane Kiffin, we're all looking at you). Remember three years ago, when A.J. McCarron opened the season splitting snaps with Phillip Sims, before eventually taking over at Penn State. At the outset, I remember dreading the McCarron era, if only because I had a mental image of him as a doofus with a laughable tattoo and terrible haircut. So maybe I'm not the best person to analyze this situation, either.
We can be reasonably confident Jacob Coker would not have transferred to Tuscaloosa had he not believed the starting quarterback's job was, at the very least, his to lose once he arrived on campus. As far as anyone is telling at this point, that is still the case.
* I called him "Jake" because that's what the rolltide.com roster said to call him. Welcome aboard, Jake.
What's really odd about Sims is how a lot of the fans who I know and talk to on a regular basis treat the idea of him as Tide starter as some sort of apocalyptic scenario. Like they're going to wake up alone in a hospital, "Walking Dead" style, find out all their friends and family are gone, the world is overrun by zombies and NOBODY IS LEFT TO PLAY QUARTERBACK EXCEPT BLAKE SIMS OH GOD WHY WHY WHY.
There's a bit of cognitive dissonance in what we learned about Sims coming out of the spring. We know, for example, that he looked lousy in the A-Day game, a statement that is tempered by 2 qualifiers: 1) It was A-Day; and 2) It was A-Day. Nobody learns anything from A-Day, and nobody should. On the other hand, we also know that Sims apparently played well in at least one of the team's two closed spring scrimmages (coaches declined to release the passing stats for the first because of the weather or something), but since nobody really saw either of them, for all we know Sims led the offense in hot yoga for 3 hours.
The only thing we can say with some degree of certainty is that the plan for the 2014 Alabama offense is to go forward with someone besides Blake Sims at quarterback. That seems a reasonable statement to make. Before we go any further, however, I think it important to commemorate Blake's biggest contribution to the program: Flagrantly crotch-chopping at LSU fans on national television. That was the best.
In a perfect world, Bateman spends a season holding the clipboard, quietly takes over as backup QB at some point around the middle of the season, Coker is so great he enters the NFL Draft ... and Bateman enters 2015 as the presumed starter. This is Cooper Bateman's perfect world. Unless he's secretly hoping for the starters to get hurt, and then turn into Jonathan Moxon. Though I guess Sims qualifies as Mox, since he's a senior. I forgot where I was going with this.
For whatever it's worth, the authorities on this site believed Bateman turned in the best performance at A-Day. But we've already talked about what you can learn from A-Day.
Now here's the real worst-case scenario at QB. Cornwell was the higher rated prospect but has appeared precisely once thus far - at A-Day, where he looked pretty terrified (sort of like me writing my first entry for this site). And speaking of this site, it was speculated here that Morris was unlikely to be on the roster at spring's end.