Curiosity about the quarterback battle at Alabama rose to a new level Saturday when coach Nick Saban emerged from the Crimson Tide's second and final scrimmage of the fall and indicated the battle between transfer Jacob Coker and senior Blake Sims remains entirely unsettled. And with just one more week of preseason practice before the Tide enters game-week mode in preparation for West Virginia, there's a strong possibility that both could play against the Mountaineers.
This, of course, isn't at all what was expected after Coker drew crazy-high praise from his former coaching staff at Florida State, including head coach Jimbo Fisher. Although a senior, Sims hasn't gotten much in the way of game experience while sitting behind former Tide star and Cincinnati Bengals rookie AJ McCarron. But while taking the starting job was thought to be easy work for Coker, Sims is proving to be much more formidable competition. Saban said both got equal reps with the first team on Saturday. For the second consecutive week, Saban didn't release statistics for either passer from scrimmage work that is closed to both public and media.
"Blake, probably is playing a little faster right now, has been in the system longer, has a better understanding, has a little more rhythm. I think sometimes Jake is still trying to feel his way. He made some real significant strides in practice this week. ... Until somebody clearly wins the job, we're not going to make a decision."
Translation: Saban doesn't consider the start of the season to be a deadline to make up his mind.
Here are a few other things to know from around college football on Saturday:
- When Buffalo Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel turns up on the internet dumping ice water over his head, he'll have FSU quarterback Jameis Winston to thank for it. Winston took the ALS ice bucket challenge and called on Manuel, his head coach, and a teammate who is a potential high draft pick to do the same.
- Much-maligned senior cornerback Tevin Mitchel is looking ready to rebound at Arkansas. Coach Bret Bielema broke him down last year with a benching, and is now building him back up. But Mitchel's not the only senior cornerback in the SEC who has something to prove.
- FSU wide receiver Isaiah Jones will sit out the season due to academic ineligibility, and he's not the only Seminoles receiver sidelined for the time being.
- South Carolina is expected to have the best offensive line in the SEC East this year, perhaps even the best in the entire league. But the group's continuity has been disrupted by a sprained knee for right guard Mike Matulis. Coach Steve Spurrier described the sprain as "severe."
- On the subject of the Gamecocks, Saturday's scrimmage was followed by a lunch for the team at Spurrier's home, and an egg-tossing contest that was ">captured on video>.
- Put Kentucky wide receiver Jeff Badet in the nomination pool for the most bizarre injury of the preseason. Badet reportedly "suffered an eye injury when he was hit by a tennis ball during a drill."