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VOL. 130 | NO. 155 | Tuesday, August 11, 2015

College Football Notebook: Nick Saban Needs a Quarterback

By Don Wade

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Another season at Alabama and another battle for quarterback.

Last year’s runner-up, Florida State transfer Jacob Coker, returns for a second shot at the job after losing out to Blake Sims in 2014. Redshirt freshman David Cornwell showed enough last spring to become a contender, and the race may be wide enough open to go beyond these two if neither can assert himself as the leader of the offense.

The question is, can Alabama return to the College Football Playoff with an untested quarterback that, at least at this stage, inspires less confidence than Sims did?

“I say don’t worry,” said senior center Ryan Kelly. “Obviously, last year, everybody was on the same thing, `who’s gonna be the starting quarterback?’ Just trust in the coaches knowing what they’re doing.”

SABAN

Nick Saban is used to a challenge, of course, and most preseason predictions still rank Alabama among the top four or five national championship contenders.

But the Crimson Tide does start the season in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 5 vs. Wisconsin, which came in at No. 24 in the recent SI.com preseason Top 25. And a first game rife with mistakes at the quarterback position could put Alabama in the unfamiliar – unfathomable? – position of starting out 0-1.

Thus, look for Saban to put some noticeable restraints on offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin’s first game plan of the season. The Crimson Tide get Middle Tennessee at home in the second week; that’s the time to start throwing the football around.

The toughest SEC schedule this season has to belong to Arkansas. In early October, the Razorbacks (7-6, 2-6 in 2014) play at Tennessee and Alabama on consecutive weekends. In November, they get road games with Ole Miss and LSU two weeks in a row.

“I always tell our players don’t take issue or complain about something you can’t control,” said Arkansas coach Bret Bielema.

That said …

“Our schedule is made by some computer somewhere,” the coach said. “I’d like to know where it’s at because I’d like to know if it really exists … I do know we’re the only school in the league that has two different segments during the year where you have back-to-back road games.”

Coordinated change

This season the SEC has 14 new coordinators, six on offense and eight on defense.

The alphabetical rundown off the new coordinators by school:

Arkansas, offensive: Dan Enos; Auburn, defensive: Will Muschamp; Florida, offensive: Doug Nussmeier; Florida, defensive: Geoff Collins; Georgia, offensive: Brian Schottenheimer; Kentucky, offensive: Shannon Dawson; LSU, defensive: Kevin Steele; Mississippi State, defensive: Manny Diaz; Missouri, defensive, Barry Odom; South Carolina, co-defensive: Jon Hoke and Lorenzo Ward; Tennessee, offensive: Mike DeBord; Texas A&M, defensive: John Chavis; Vanderbilt, offensive: Andy Ludwig; Vanderbilt, defensive: head coach Derek Mason.

Quote, unquote

“Success can be very dangerous” – University of Memphis coach Justin Fuente speaking at the Tigers’ recent Media Day when addressing the effect of last year’s 10-win season on this year.

“We embrace that, with them being our permanent crossover. Now we just have to get back to making those games relevant again” – Tennessee coach Butch Jones on playing Alabama every season.

“It is weird that I have a crush on @RondaRousey and scared of her at the same time” – Ohio State QB Cardale Jones, @CJ12_ on Twitter.

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