Can Bama get enough from QB Coker to stay in playoff race?
With the highest-graded defense in the nation, according to PFF, Alabama looks set to challenge for a national title once again. But whether the Crimson Tide can achieve more postseason success will depend on whether senior quarterback Jake Coker can perform more consistently in SEC play than he has to this point.
Coker (-11.6 grade) currently ranks a woeful No. 135 of 153 qualifying quarterbacks in terms of pure passing, and inconsistency has been his biggest issue. After two positively graded games against Louisiana-Monroe and Georgia, Coker had a terrible outing against Arkansas (-5.0). Overall he completed just three of nine targets further than 10 yards downfield, with a pair of picks and one touchdown. Coker may have completed 20 of 25 passes with a clean pocket, but for only 165 yards (6.6 yards per attempt) and an interception.
The game against Arkansas marks the fourth time Coker has recorded a -4.0 passing grade or worse in the season’s first six weeks. He also struggled against Middle Tennessee State (-4.1) and Ole Miss (-7.5). Coker is now No. 48 of 65 qualifiers in accuracy percentage, showing good location on just 65.9 percent of throws. He also ranks near the bottom of the nation in deep passing (just five completions from 22 attempts, with two scores and four picks).
Simply put, Coker is not able to win games on his own at the moment, and is dependent upon the Alabama defense to keep scores low. In wins against Wisconsin and Georgia (where he graded positively), Coker had a combined 36 attempts. He was able to play patiently in those games, only taking his shots when circumstances presented themselves. In contrast, he dropped back for 41 passes in Bama’s shootout loss to Ole Miss, making some ill-advised passes when trying to force the game.
Overall, this Alabama team is incredibly talented and productive at almost every position, but it certainly appears after studying the numbers that the Crimson Tide can only go so far as their quarterback takes them.
And while it may be as simple as that, and up to Coker himself to provide the offense with more consistency, we will offer one solution: Get senior RB Kenyan Drake (+8.1 grade) even more involved in the offense. He’s broken 23 tackles (rushing and receiving) in just 64 combined touches, and owns the team’s highest receiving and rushing grades. He is also a great complement to leading rusher Derrick Henry, a power back who is tough to tackle but has really struggled as a pass-catcher.