No. 2 Alabama fans expect to see Coker, Sims play
Coker's competition with Blake Sims for the starting job resumes Saturday when No. 2 Alabama (1-0) hosts 40-point underdog Florida Atlantic (0-1). The Florida State transfer didn't play any meaningful snaps in the opener against West Virginia while Sims had one of the more statistically productive quarterback debuts in program history.
Tide coach Nick Saban said Coker will likely play.
''We still have competition at the position, so it gives us an opportunity to evaluate how guys played in the game,'' Saban said. ''We already know how Blake Sims played, and I thought he played fairly well. But regardless of how our quarterback situation works out long-term, you always want to have another guy that's ready to go in the game if something happens to the first guy, whoever that might be.
''It's not about who we're playing, it's about trying to manage our team for the future. And that's exactly what we're trying to do.''
Sims' 24 completions and 33 attempts were the high marks for debuting Tide quarterbacks and his 250 passing yards ranks third.
Saban didn't offer any hints as to how much or when Coker will play. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder didn't arrive in Tuscaloosa until May so closed scrimmages are the closest to game action he's seen in an Alabama uniform besides a couple of handoffs in the final minute of the opening win.
Here are some things to know about the Florida Atlantic-Alabama game:
PLAYERS' RETURN: Tide linebacker Trey DePriest, a defensive signal caller, returns after a one-game suspension for an undisclosed NCAA infraction. Cornerback Eddie Jackson could see action, too. He's returning from April knee surgery. However, receiver DeAndrew White is out with a right shoulder injury.
INJURED OWLS: Two key Florida Atlantic players are trying to come back from shoulder injuries, quarterback Jaquez Johnson and cornerback D'Joun Smith. Both have practiced and could be game time decisions. Johnson is a threat to run and pass after receiving Conference USA newcomer of the year honors last season. ''The quarterback got hurt about the 26th play of the (Nebraska) game and then they weren't nearly as good after that, because he is probably the center of what they do and is a very, very effective player,'' Saban said.
SHAKY DEFENSES: Saban wasn't happy with Alabama allowing 365 passing yards to West Virginia. Florida Atlantic has a much rougher outing to rebound from, allowing 784 total yards against No. 19 Nebraska
BIG PAYDAYS: Florida Atlantic is raking in $1 million apiece from its first two games, but it's a rough way to start for first-year coach Charlie Partridge. He's a former Arkansas and Wisconsin assistant and is duplicating Saban's approach in at least one regard. ''I respect his process,'' Partridge said. ''Nick Saban is worried about Alabama the same way we are worried about FAU. That's our focus this week - to get better as a football team.''
RUNNING BACK ROTATION: Alabama's T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry both topped 100 rushing yards in the opener. Kenyan Drake only got three carries but should get more chances in this one after two productive seasons.