FAU-Alabama Preview

BY foxsports • September 2, 2014

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - The Alabama quarterback competition continues, even though the opener was all Blake Sims.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Monday that the battle for the No. 1 spot remains open between first-game starter Sims and Jake Coker, who mostly watched second-ranked Alabama's 33-23 win over West Virginia from the sidelines. Expect Coker to get his first significant action Saturday against Florida Atlantic.

"I still don't hesitate to say that there's a quarterback competition," Saban said. "In some way, we'll probably try to play both quarterbacks in this game. I don't know how and when I figure it out, I'm probably not going to tell the media.

"And I don't know that it's that important, to be honest with you," Saban added.

It's an issue that's impossible to ignore, though.

Sims received decent reviews from his first game as a starter. He completed 24 of 33 passes for 250 yards with one interception on an ill-advised downfield throw and had time management issues that forced a couple of second-quarter timeouts.

"Those types of things are the game management issues that we have to improve on," Saban said.

Sims got back on track when the Tide went no-huddle for a while and also ran for 42 yards. His numbers could have been better but a wide-open Christion Jones dropped a deep ball downfield that should have been a touchdown.

Coker, a Florida State transfer, was frequently shown on TV cameras watching. He only got in the game to run out the clock and didn't attempt a pass. Some observers, who had presumed that Coker would win the job after backing up Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, might have thought it would be the other way around but he's had limited time to master the offense.

"He didn't complain," Tide fullback Jalston Fowler said. "Just kept a straight face and kept moving."

There were other issues for Alabama in the opener, including a secondary that was burned for 365 yards, but the burning topic has been the quarterbacks. With Alabama set to face a 40-point underdog, this might be the ideal team for both to get their shots.

Then comes Southern Miss, another team that oddsmakers won't give much of a chance, before the Tide opens Southeastern Conference play against Florida.

Fowler said he has only one reaction to fans who want the inside scoop on the quarterback situation.

"It's not a distraction to me," he said. "I just listen to them talking and just walk away and laugh. We can win with either one of them."

Whoever's at quarterback will be without one of his top targets.

Saban said wide receiver DeAndrew White is likely out two weeks with a right shoulder injury, leaving him possibly back for the Florida game. Safety Jarrick Williams could miss at least four weeks with a fractured bone in his foot.

Saban said he wasn't even aware Williams was hurt until after the game.

"He actually finished the game," he said. "They put a screw in it (Sunday) and he'll be four weeks for sure and then we'll have to see where he goes from there."

Florida Atlantic is being paid $1 million to visit Tuscaloosa, the same amount it received for last Saturday's trip to Lincoln - and the result isn't expected to be much different this week. Led by first-year coach Charlie Partridge, the Owls were routed 55-7 at then-No. 22 Nebraska, getting held to 200 total yards.

Seventy-five of them came on their opening drive as Jaquez Johnson, who split time at quarterback with Greg Hankerson, hit Lucky Whitehead for a 20-yard touchdown.

Florida Atlantic lost 40-7 at Tuscaloosa in 2012 in these schools' only previous meeting.

"They know what they are supposed to do, fundamentally," Partridge said of the Tide. "... We are figuring out what we do best. It is going to take time to get our fundamentals perfect."