Believe It Or Not, Nothing New On Tide QBs

Reporters were likely to try to tiptoe around the Alabama quarterback question during Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban’s Monday press briefing. No one wants to ask the same question day after day. On the other hand, it would be unconscionable for a decision to be made and no one have asked the question.

As it turned out, Alabama Coach Nick Saban took care of the first question without it being asked. The Crimson Tide has played two games, wins over West Virginia in which Blake Sims went almost the entire game at quarterback and over Florida Atlantic in which Sims and Jake Coker split playing time.

This week Alabama – ranked second in the nation in the Coaches Poll and third by the Associated Press -- will host Southern Mississippi (1-1) in Bryant-Denny Stadium at 5 p.m. CDT.

Saban said, “The quarterback situation is no different than it was before. I know that you all would love to create a quarterback controversy, but I think as much as you might try to do that, the one thing that I noticed that I wish you noticed is that after Jake Coker's touchdown pass, who was the first guy to go jump up and give him a congratulations and a hug and all that? Blake Sims.

“Both guys are working to improve. We need them both to work to improve. Both players did good things in the game and both players did things that they can improve on.

“I think at this point our focus needs to be on trying to help both of those guys to play better.”

Saban was asked about the unusual circumstance of one of the quarterbacks, Sims, being a fifth-year senior, and the other, junior Joker, being in graduate school, having already graduated from Florida State. He transferred from FSU to Alabama this summer.

It is a non-issue as far as the coach is concerned.

“What we'd like to keep the scrutiny on is what we do here,” Saban said. “I know from your perspective and from a fans' perspective there's a lot of scrutiny but we want the focus here to be on the tree not the shadow, if that makes any sense. What's happening here is the real thing, the tree. What happens externally is the shadow.

“We're trying to keep our guys focused on what they need to do to be good players here and not be affected by external factors regardless of what they might be because it really doesn't matter. It doesn't really matter what you think or what anybody else thinks. We have to make a decision based on winning with our coaches, our players, our team so that we're going to put them in the best position to have the best chance to be successful. It doesn't have to be about one guy, it doesn't have to be about, 'Well, this guy's the starter and this guy's this.'

“We're so quick to want to categorize people when it's really not necessary to do that. The focus is how do we get all players better and that's what we're trying to do at the quarterback position and every other position on the team.”

A common speculation in the pre-season and through the opening game was that the final decision on the quarterback would have to be made by the fourth game of the season, when Alabama hosts Florida.

Maybe not.

“It's sort of a hypothetical question,” Saban said. “To me, whichever quarterback develops and gives us the best chance to win when we play Florida, that's the guy we're going to play. So far Blake has done a really good job and we're trying to get Jake experience.

“Whether he has to play or we need him to play or something happens to another quarterback, he's ready to play. We're making those evaluations on a day-to-day basis. We're not really ready to make any kind of prediction on what we should do in the Florida game when we're playing Southern Miss this week. That's really kind of what we're focused on right now.

“The whole one day, one play, everybody improve at a time. Whatever happens today, that's what we're focused on: today.

“I don't know who's starting at strong safety in the Texas A&M game when we play them, either. We'll just have to wait and see.”

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