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Alabama QB Blake Sims the favorite to start vs. WVU, Jacob Coker to play

Fifth-year senior Blake Sims played some last year as a backup. (USATSI)
Fifth-year senior Blake Sims played some last year as a backup. (USATSI)

Alabama's early-week plan is to play two quarterbacks on Saturday against West Virginia , with fifth-year senior Blake Sims the current favorite to start, CBSSports.com has learned.

Touted Florida State transfer Jacob Coker will play in the Georgia Dome, but he failed to create significant separation in Bama's quarterback race, and is expected to come off the bench.

The next three practices could change the outlook. As of Monday night, the team's plan was similar to Alabama's 2011 opener against Kent State, when A.J. McCarron and Philip Sims split time.

McCarron, of course, started the game, became Bama's three-year starter and helped the Tide win two national titles. Sims transferred to Virginia and eventually landed at Winston-Salem State.

Blake Sims, a fifth-year senior (and no relation to Phillip Sims), has completed 23 of 39 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns as McCarron's primary backup. While with FSU, Coker threw for 295 yards with a touchdown and interception on 21-of-41 passing.

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher has raved about Coker's ability and stressed how close Coker was to winning the starting job over Jameis Winston a year ago, prompting an assumption in the media (myself included) that Coker would naturally ease into the job.

The job very well might be his long-term, but clearly Alabama needs to see more. Sims has performed well but it's uncertain whether the athletic quarterback is truly suited for Alabama's pro-style sets.

If both quarterbacks fall apart Saturday, redshirt sophomore Alec Morris will get a look.

Coach Nick Saban, when listing Coker and Sims as co-starters Monday, used a baseball analogy to describe the race. "Whatever pitcher starts the game (isn't) necessarily going to pitch nine innings," Saban told local reporters.


Jeremy Fowler is a national college football insider with CBSSports.com. Fowler joined CBS in 2012 after covering the Minnesota Vikings for the St. Paul Pioneer Press for two seasons and covering the Florida Gators for the Orlando Sentinel for two years. Fowler is also a contributor to the CBS Sports Network.
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