The question concerned Cooper Bateman, ostensibly the number three man in the Alabama quarterback pecking order…according to outsiders. Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban hasn’t committed in the least to any quarterback, much less to making a decision between the perceived leaders, senior Blake Sims or transfer junior Jake Coker.
In answer to a question about redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman, saban said, “Cooper’s gotten a lot better since he's been here. I think he's very athletic. I think the thing that we'd like to see him do is just be a little bit more consistent. He certainly shows at various times that he has the ability to make the plays that we need him to make. But it would be the consistency that would really take him a long way to being able to reach his full potential.
“Probably a lot of that is confidence. Some of it's probably technique, and those are the kinds of things that we work on every day.
“He has made dramatic improvement.”
The Tide coach didn’t leave it there.
“Really,” he said, “all the quarterbacks in this camp so far have really done well. I think our offense has done pretty well because of that.
“We make a lot of explosive plays and we're doing a good job of getting the ball in the hands of the guys that can make those plays.
“And the quarterbacks, they've done a pretty good job of distributing the ball to those guys. I've been pretty pleased with how we've developed on offense.
“Most of the time defense is a little bit ahead, but it really does seem like our offense has shown a little more maturity.
“When the quarterbacks do well, we can be pretty good.”
Saban also talked about the things the team needs to do to be successful and noted that more players on offense are doing those things.
“If I was going to evaluate our first four days of practice, the thing I would say to our team is, ‘The intangible things that take no ability like effort and finishing plays, like mental toughness to sustain even when there are difficult times out there, like it was pretty hot out there today, but that’s not really news to anybody, and do you have the discipline to execute and do your job on a consistent basis, even when things do get difficult. And none of those things take a lot of ability, but they do take mental toughness, a mindset of perseverance that takes a pretty good amount of maturity.’
“That’s something I’d like to see from more players on our team.
“The older players on our team seem to do that very well. Some of the younger players need to continue to learn how to do that. And how many of them do will certainly make a big difference in the kind of depth we have on our team and the kind of quality we can have as a team.”
Yeldon and Cooper are at the head of the class.
Saban said, “I've been very fortunate through the years. When the best players are the hardest workers and sort of play with the best intangibles, competitive character, whatever you want to call it _ that's really what you dream about as a coach.
“The most frustrating thing that you have as a coach is when you have a guy that has ability, has talent and he doesn't have those intangible things, the inner drive to develop and do what he's capable of doing.
“Well, in both these guys' cases they obviously have talent but they also have the right stuff when it comes to the kind of competitive character they have and the kind of people they are. They go out there every day and work to improve and try to get better. They asspire all the time. Never arrived. Never think ‘I'm good enough. I don't have to do this any more.’
“I think that kind of example sets really well with other players on your team and can change the culture of your team because of that. Those two guys are certainly guys that do that.
“We have a lot of guys on offense that do that. We probably have less experienced guys on defense. Landon Collins is that way, but we don't have a lot of guys on defense that have that kind of knowledge and experience right now. We have a few. It's going to be important to see how they mature.”
Senior fullback Jalston Fowler said there have been a lot of explosive plays by the offense, although he said he could claim “about one or two, not too many.”
“They come from finishing plays,” Fowler added.
“Just a lot of guys making plays,” he said.
Safety Nick Perry sees it from a different perspective. He listed quarterbacks. “Sims, Coker, Alec Morris, Bateman. All those guys are making nice throws. They’re using everybody’s talents to the fullest.”