For Alabama, Blake Sims was the top man returning, but Jake Coker was the new guy with the big reputation, transferring from Florida State. For LSU, Anthony Jennings had experience as the Tigers back-up quarterback and Brandon Harris was the highly-regarded incoming freshman.
Insofar as Coker, Alabama Coach Nick Saban said, “It really wasn't fair to him. I think this was largely created by the media and fans who always hope for the unknown to be better.”
Alabama (7-1 overall, 4-1 SEC) plays at LSU (7-2, 3-2) at 7 p.m. CST Saturday with CBS televising the game.
Saban said, "I think that the most important thing when it comes to the quarterback position is probably the ability to process information and make quick decisions. Some people can respond to that a little more quickly just from sort of an athletic intuition standpoint than somebody else.
“I can't talk about other quarterbacks, but you always say, 'That guy's an instinctive player.' I think Blake Sims, for instance, is an instinctive player. For him to make progress in that regard is more of an issue of knowledge and experience, game management, calling the right plays, getting the team in the right play, making the right checks, because his ability to process information and make good decisions once he gets the ball in his hand, that's not really ever been his issue.
“For other guys, it just takes them a little bit longer and they need a little bit more repetition, time, understanding to be able to do that. I think that's one of the reasons that quarterback's a tough evaluation because it's hard to figure that part out, whether it's in the NFL or college or high school or whatever.
“And the guys that seem to play the position well all seem to have that athletic intuition.”
Saban had good things to say about LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings, and noted the similarities in reasons for success for both Harris and Sims.
“I do think Anthony Jennings is playing really, really well,” Sabam said. “A good decision-maker who hasn't made a lot of mistakes. I think that's one of the reasons they've played a lot better.
“I think in both cases, though, both guys have had more time in the system, in the program, have a better understanding of what's expected from them, and go out and play with a lot more poise and ability to execute. I think that has created better consistency for them and that's been the key to them playing better.”
Unlike many, Saban understands the situation with Coker being unable to oust Sims from the starting job.
“It wasn’t really fair to Jake, to be honest with you,” Saban said. “A new guy in the program. Never been in the system. Had a lot on the uptake side to be able to grasp the offense, get what he needed to get, not having been in spring practice.
“Jake's a good player, and he's going to be a fine player for us and he's getting better all the time.”