Alabama’s Jake Coker Likes Progress

After finishing 17-31 passing for 158 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception, Alabama senior quarterback Jake Coker spoke to the media following his team’s 34-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe Saturday. The chat was Coker’s first time with the press since Alabama’s opening game win over Wisconsin in Dallas.

“I think we all started a little slow today, but eventually we got things going, and finished off how we wanted to finish off,” Jacob Coker said. “I think (the offense played better) in the second half. In the first half, we had some miscommunication, but it all worked out in the second half.

“I thought I got better (as the game went on), but at the same time, I had some mistakes, and I put other guys in the wrong position, so that was my fault. I’ve got a long way to go. I think when (he threw the pick), I got a little bit over-heated, I guess, but it’s always nice to have guys come over there and pick you up.

“I think I’ve been getting better as we go. Last week (in the Ole Miss loss), we just couldn’t pull it out, but I think the whole team has grown, and we’re getting better.”

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said, “I’m just pleased with the way Jake played today. We had five balls that were flat dropped. You couldn’t throw them any better. I thought Jake did a good job. There was probably a couple times he wishes he could have done it a little different, in terms of going to somebody else. Those are the things we need to work on, and get better at.”

Coker said he wasn’t sure if his arm was hit on the errant pick or not. “I don’t know. I was hit, but I’ve got to know when to get the ball out. It was my fault.”

Coker said it felt good to take the vast majority of the snaps for the first time this season. “Oh, man. I loved it,” he said. “Anytime you’re playing, and getting to play a lot, it’s always a good time. I was excited about it. I had fun out there.”

Coker added that getting first team practice reps all week “was a good feeling. I was excited about it just to practice, and have a good week. “

Asked if there was a miscommunication on the lone interception he threw, Coker took the blame. “No, it was on me,” he said. “Everybody ran the right route. I just kind of had a hard time getting it out. (Ardarius Stewart’s) been running the right routes. I’ve just got to put it in the right spot.

“When you throw an interception, you’re just not doing the right things. I’ve got to be more conservative as far as ‘taking shots,’ especially in traffic when I’m trying to get the ball out. I can’t do the things I’ve been doing.”

For the first time since the 2009 SEC Championship Game against Florida, the 12th ranked Tide will head to Athens, Ga., next week as an underdog in all likelihood. “It’s just another game, and we’re going to be ready for it,” Coker said. “I guess I’ll see how it goes, then.”

Without telling him who, a reporter told Coker a teammate had commented about Coker’s athleticism on some of his runs. “Who said that?” Coker laughed, drawing guffaws from the media. “I just tried to do whatever I could to make a positive play happen.”

What Coker didn’t know was that teammate who called him “athletic” was fullback Michael Nysewander, who Coker pre-rewarded with a 19-yard flat pass for a touchdown on the same play the Tide ran for Jalston Fowler for two years. “Nysewander, he’s a character,” Coker said. “He’s one of those guys who’s been around a while, and comes in every day, does the right things, and works hard; always a positive guy. He really picks everybody up, so whenever he does anything good, everybody always responds in a positive way, because he’s such a good dude, so everybody was happy to see that.”

Asked about Derrick Henry’s limited availability due to tonsillitis earlier in the week, Coker said, “Heck, I didn’t know how much (Henry) was going to play. I was just going to play with whoever was in there. Everybody else thought the same way.”

Queried if Saturday’s game plan was more conservative heading into a tough game at Georgia, Coker said, “I don’t think so. I just thought (offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin) called the plays that would gain the most yards. That’s about it.”

Following last week’s 43-37 loss at home to Ole Miss, Coker said “Everybody was pretty upset with that game, but we responded in a positive way, and came to work.”

Of course, Coker said, he would have preferred to have started against the Rebels, but “it’s a team, and it’s Coach Saban’s word. You’ve got to follow it, and you can’t complain about it. The last thing I’d do is try to affect the team in a negative way. That’s not something I’d want to do at all. When he called my name, I was ready to go.”

Coker said he sees some slow, but steady progress in the Tide’s quest to find that elusive “offensive identity” Saban talks about. “Oh yeah, definitely,” he said. “We’re getting better as we go.

“We’ve got a bunch of tough guys on offense that play hard, and just do what Coach (Lane) Kiffin wants us to do.”

Graduate transfer receiver Richard Mullaney has played a part in that progress, as well as Coker’s. “Me and (Richard) Mullaney have become pretty good friends, and he’s just a guy I can trust, because I feel like he’s going to be where he’s supposed to be.”

Another man who is gaining trust from both Coker and Saban is true freshman running back Damien Harris, who rushed for 23 yards on 4 carries Saturday. “He’s always really impressed me, and he had some good runs today. I think he’s going to be real good in the future.”

Video by A.P. Steadham

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