Tide's Amari Cooper may be headed for another breakout season

Saban: Receiver tough to stop with single coverage

Anniston StarApril 13, 2014 

Tennessee Alabama Football

Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper (9) it stopped by Tennessee defensive back Brian Randolph (37) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

DAVE MARTIN — AP

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Give him the ball and watch him work.

That seems to be Alabama's way of thinking with junior wide receiver Amari Cooper this spring.

Through two scrimmages, Cooper has terrorized the Crimson Tide's secondary for 287 yards and three touchdowns on 19 receptions, according to the stats provided by Alabama's media relations staff.

Cooper has been so good that Tide coach Nick Saban basically said there's no way to stop him with just one defender.

"The guy's really an explosive guy. He's got great speed, he's got really good hands, he's got good size," Saban said Saturday. "He can catch the ball vertically down the field. He's difficult to cover coming out of a break. He's good against press (coverage), so he's a pretty hard guy to stop unless you put two guys on him.

"We don't really scheme ourselves, either side of the ball offense or defense. We're just trying to do what we do and execute both ways. He gets some matchups out there that are pretty hard to handle."

Last week, when asked if he can get open against any coverage, Cooper said "I've felt that way for a pretty long time."

Now healthy, Cooper could be headed for another breakout season.

As for the players charged with getting Cooper and others the ball, senior quarterback Blake Sims is the lead man after two scrimmages. On Saturday, Sims completed 24 of 39 throws for 288 yards and three touchdowns. That comes on the heels of him connecting on 16 of 23 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns in the first scrimmage.

"I think Blake has shown a lot of command out there," Saban said. "Blake made probably three or four plays with his feet scrambling, and then making a play throwing the ball. I know there were several third-down situations today where the front guys couldn't get him on the ground, get him tagged, and he ended up scrambling around and made a play about three or four times. He's doing a better job in the pocket. He's been very accurate and his consistency has been good. So we're pleased with Blake."

Outside of Sims, redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman appears to be the next man in line. Bateman was 16-of-31 for 160 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday. In the first scrimmage, Bateman was 14-of-25 for 102 yards.

Then there's redshirt sophomore Alec Morris, who is also seeing time at punter. Morris was 4-of-7 for 90 yards and a touchdown on Saturday after completing 9 of 12 passes for 57 yards in the first scrimmage.

No stats have been provided for Parker McLeod or freshman David Cornwell, who is still recovering from knee surgery.

"I think all the other guys, they have their good days and their bad days," Saban said of the quarterback not named Sims. "I think they all need to work on their consistency. Cooper (Bateman) has probably got the most reps of any of the other guys and he's done some good things. But his consistency is what he really needs to work on."

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