Alabama officially added Florida State’s Jacob Coker to the mix at quarterback this past week. He will graduate in the spring and join the team for summer workouts. There are plenty of people that are handing him the starting job without seeing him on campus, this is for good reason.
Coker appeared in seven games last season for the national champions and will not be your typical first-year quarterback. He should also bring a level of competitive “DNA” that the younger guys don't have, especially after his battle with Heisman winner Jameis Winston.
Alabama’s Blake Sims did play in eight games last season and might actually have a real shot in the quarterback race (at least as the No. 2). This would be based solely on the idea that a mobile signal caller is what is wanted for the position. However Coker has the edge on all of them and with his arm strength and mobility he could be the total package.
The one area of improvement for Coker will be consistency and accuracy and that I am sure will develop under Lane Kiffin. The bottom line is Alabama had the best quarterback situation in the league the last three years and it was heading into 2014 in maybe one of the worst situations. Now with Coker on board the focus should be back again on the team and not on the quarterback position.
I was not surprised by Dee Ford's week at the Senior Bowl and you can go ahead and write this down—I'm a fan. How could you not be a fan of a talented player who lays it on the line every snap of every game?
The watershed moment of the season for me came against Texas A&M in College Station. This was a game in which Ford chased college football's best player all over the field for four quarters. The signature moment was on the game’s final play in which he was able to corral Johnny Manziel one final time for the win. He finished with two sacks and two tackles for loss, but I challenge you to watch the other 50 snaps he played; they were relentless.
He also performed that way against FSU in a close loss for the national championship. I'm glad that the NFL "gurus" believe he can now be a first-round pick after last week, because I think he will be a 10-year guy at the next level. By the way, why not just ask his defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson what he thinks of his senior. He also coached this year's No. 1 defensive end Jadevon Clowney.
This and that
- Vanderbilt made it official with the hiring of former UCLA coach Karl Dorrell as its offensive coordinator. He will run a pro-style offense with a west-coast emphasis we believe. He will have two talented quarterbacks to work with in the spring in Patton Robinette and redshirt Johnny McCrary. The bigger issue may be receiver where they need to find some on the recruiting trail.
- The annual meeting of conference officials will take place this week in Irving, Texas. The biggest point of discussion will be on whether or not the 15-yard penalty for targeting will be upheld if the ejection is not. The officials are also going to share and discuss ideas from each conference. I am all for less penalties and pace of play, but hopefully this year they will just leave the game alone as we head to the college football playoff.
- Based on Philsteele.com, Kentucky and Mississippi State have the most returning starters for 2014. I think the Bulldogs have the makings of a nine-win team if things go right. The schedule will be much more manageable and Dak Prescott is a special player. Kentucky will win more games, but Neil Brown must find a quarterback for his system. If he gets the right guy sooner than later the Wildcats could double their win total.