Nick Saban Talks About Quarterback Battle Continuing In Weekly Monday Press Conference [VIDEO]
Blake Sims took every meaningful snap and helped lead Alabama to a season-opening win over West Virginia Saturday in Atlanta. Still, there are no guarantees yet for him on becoming the permanent starter.
At his weekly Monday press conference, Alabama coach Nick Saban said the plan at quarterback for Saturday’s home opener against Florida Atlantic has not yet been decided. Jacob Coker, a junior transfer from Florida State who has been locked in a battle for the starting job throughout August, only saw action against the Mountaineers during the final two plays of the game. Both plays were handoffs to the running back.
“I don’t hesitate to say there’s a quarterback competition and that in some way we’ll probably try to play both quarterbacks in this game,” Saban said.
In his first-career start, Sims, a fifth-year senior, threw for 250 yards and one interception on 24-of-33 passing. Overall, Saban was complimentary of Sims’ performance but after looking back on film, he noticed a few negatives, like missing a few open receivers and taking too long in the huddle to call the play.
“Those types of things are the game-management issues that we have to improve on. We actually went no huddle for a little bit, which then he got settled down and he was fine after that.”
Drake to be used in ‘special situations’
Running backs T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry both rushed for over 100 yards and at least one touchdown against West Virginia, but Saban was hoping for a little more out of another running back.
“Probably (could’ve) used Kenyan Drake a little bit more in special situations,” Saban said. “Just didn’t maybe come up where he would play. He thought he would play a little bit more in the game, but those situations didn’t quite come up as much.”
Drake, who is in his junior season now at Alabama, rushed for only seven yards on three carries last Saturday. After being listed second on the depth chart for most of last season behind Yeldon, Drake was listed third coming into this season behind Yeldon and Henry, who surpassed Drake after a late-season push last year.
Still, the plan is to use all three during games throughout this season.
“We have a lot of confidence in all three of those guys,” Saban said. “As long as we can keep them healthy and they can stay healthy, that’s probably how we’ll play.”
Kiffin a success in sideline debut
Along with Sims at quarterback, no other player or coach may have had a more notable debut than first-year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin last Saturday.
Kiffin called every single one of Alabama’s offensive plays form the sideline, helping the team gain 538 yards of total offense in the win over West Virginia. Last week leading up to West Virginia, Saban said that Kiffin would be coaching from the sidelines all this season, something he has never made any of his previous offensive coordinators do.
“I think it went really well,” Saban said. “And I think if he wasn’t on the sidelines, we would’ve had a lot more issues. Maybe more issues than we could overcome to be successful in the game.”
As a result, Kiffin, who has previous held head coaching jobs with the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee and USC, was more easily accessible to talk to Sims during the game.
“We did a really good job of managing Blake and helped him manage the game, as much as you could ever do it,” Saban said. “And I don’t think anybody could have done that had he been in the press box. So I think that was critical.”
Fullback Jalston Fowler said he liked having Kiffin down on the sideline.
“It’s a good thing because he can tell you what he sees and if you just listen to him, you’ll be able to follow up and it helps you out,” Fowler said.
- Wide receiver DeAndrew White, who Saban had announced in the West Virginia postgame press conference had separated his shoulder and would be out for a week, said on Monday that the injury would “probably” take two weeks to recover.
- Defensive back Jarrick Williams also suffered an injury — a fracture in his foot — against West Virginia, something Saban said he didn’t know about until some time after the game, and will be out for four weeks “for sure.”
“Jarrick Williams had a Jones fracture in his foot,” Saban said. “He said his foot was hurt and he did an X-ray. He actually finished the game. They put a screw in it (Sunday), so he’ll be four weeks for sure, and then we’ll kind of see where he goes from there.”
Williams, who plays the “Star” position in Alabama’s secondary, could be replaced by Geno Smith or Maurice Smith during his absence.
- Defensive back Eddie Jackson, who tore his ACL in the spring but returned to practice in August, may start seeing some playing time this week against Florida Atlantic after sitting out against West Virginia for precautionary purposes.
“We’re probably going to start investing some reps in Eddie Jackson this week,” Saban said. “We’ll see if he’s able to play or not. He thinks he can play, he thinks he can go. Doc’s cleared him to go, we just haven’t invested the reps with him with the ones and twos. Because if we do that and the guy can’t play than that’s someone else you could’ve repped that didn’t get the reps is now going to have to play in the game. So we’re going to start investing some reps in him, and then we’ll decide later in the week if he’s OK to go or not.”
Watch the player interviews from Monday below: