OK, so Jake Coker didn't exactly take the Alabama starting quarterback job.
Three weeks into the season, with the Crimson Tide at a startling 0-1 in SEC play, it's time to give it to him.
For better or worse, and through whatever mistakes might come of it, the time has come for Nick Saban to validate confidence in the fifth-year senior by declaring him, both internally and publicly, as the team's No. 1 quarterback. That didn't happen last week, as Cooper Bateman got his first career start and led the Tide to just three points in nearly a half of action, in a 43-37 loss to Ole Miss that became an offensive shootout with at the helm.
Saban has rightly noted there are offensive problems beyond the quarterback position, from inexperienced receivers to missed blocks. But those things aren't more easily overcome by changing quarterbacks. And whatever Coker's high-end potential is as a quarterback, he'll need as much game action as possible now if he's going to reach it by the end of the season.
He's got his drawbacks.
He sees things a bit slow at times, he doesn't always sense the rush, and he needs to throw the ball away in the face of negative plays. He's thrown three interceptions, and is lucky that number isn't twice that.
But Coker can also make downfield throws that Cooper Bateman isn't capable of.
A power running game isn't going to be enough to carry this offense by itself. Eventually, stacked defensive fronts will compel the UA offense to stretch the field vertically in the passing game and make big plays.
Against Louisiana-Monroe, Coker will start. But instead of pulling him after a half, or even three quarters, Saban would be wise to leave him in the game let him pick up as much experience as possible.
He might need every bit of it against Georgia next week.