Although Alabama finished Saturday’s game at College Station with a decisive 41-23 win over Texas A&M, rthere were times when the Aggies were in striking distance of the Crimson Tide. And those were times when senior Bama quarterback Jacob Coker relied on his legs to make plays.
Twice Coker led Bama on drives that failed to produce touchdowns, but did result in important field goals to give Alabama breathing room.
Earlier this year the 6-5, 232-pound Coker had shown that he has mobility when forced to scramble and that he has speed when he elects to bootleg. Against A&M he gave further evidence that he’s not a running quarterback a defender wants to trifle with. Rather than taking the quarterback slide (that Coaches Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin would undoubtedly prefer), Coker takes the defender man against man.
And Coker gives as good as he gets. Maybe gives a little better.
“I don’t like to slide,” Coker said Saturday night. “I think it’s kind of crazy. Especially, you get close, somebody’s close, and you start sliding and they want lto get one in on you. I don’t know. I don’t believe in sliding.”
Coker had two particularly nice gains on scramble plays, finishing with punishing blasts on Aggies defenders.
“We needed something, and so I just tried to do something,” he said. “We just kept going. We played safe with the ball and the guys did xtheir jobs.”
Coker said his scrambles are not designed plays. “We were rolling rightr and we were intending to throw the ball over there, but they (A&M defenders) did a good job and made it kind of cloudy over there,” he said. “I didn’t want to take any chances, so I did what I could.”
Coker finished the game with, officially, seven carries for 13 yards, but he had 30 yards in gains, including scrambles of 8 and 16 yards leading to a field goal that stretched the Tide lead to two touchdowns.
Coker had a solid game passing, hitting 19-25 passes for 138 yards with no touchdowns, but no interceptions, either.
And speaking of interceptions, Coker was well aware of the big storylines in Bama’s win over the top ten Aggies.
The Alabama secondary turned in four interceptions, two each by freshman Star (or nickel) Minkah Fitzpatrick and junior safety Eddie Jackson. Fitzpatrick returned both of his for touchdowns, while Jackson had a TD on his 93-yard pick six.
Coker said, “Three touchdowns defensively is pretty hard to beat. I’ll take that any day.”
Coker also had a word for tailback Derrick Henry, who 32 rushes for 236 yards and two touchdowns and had a key 18-yard run with a short pass for a first down.
“I’ve gotten to where I don’t get real surprised any more,” Coker said. “You see him doing things like that all the time and he did what Derrick does. Very impressive. Pretty crazy. “Every game we plan on Derrick having a good fgame. I can’t say that was the game plan this time because he’s a huge part of this offense every game.”
Coker said, “J.C. did one heck of a job. It’s hard, especialy in this environment. This is one of the loudest stadiums I’ve ever heard. I wasl real proud of him. He came in and did his job. You couldn’t ask any more of him. He usually works with the twos [second offense in practice] and isn’t used to working with the first unit. It was all you could really ask for from J.C. He did one heck of a job today.
“Kelly is a fiftrh-year senior, as good as it gets at center, and you’ve got a guy coming in and playing for the first time in a bvig time game. I can’t say enough about the guy. He did his job, one heckuva job.”
The win improved Alabama’s record to 6-1 overall and 2-1 in Southeastern Conference games. It was the Tide’s second road win over a top 10 ranked team (Georgia the other one, two weeks earlier).
“That means a lot,” Coker said. “We’re going to try to keep momentum. We’re kind of backed into a corner. We have to win.
“In my mind we’ere coming out and playing every snap, make sure we’re leaving nothing out there, staying alive right now and our dream is to keep doing that – keep winning every game. One at a time.”
This week Alabama hosts Tennessee in Bryant-Denny Stadium in a CBS telecast that begins at 2:30 p.m. CDT Saturday.
Derrick Henry spoke of Coker saying “He’s doing a great job and improving every week. Showing a lot of poise.”