University of Alabama

Tide's Coker earns respect from teammates in loss to Ole Miss

Alabama quarterback Jake Coker warms up for an NCAA college football game against Mississippi, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Alabama quarterback Jake Coker warms up for an NCAA college football game against Mississippi, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) AP

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Jake Coker impressed his teammates and coaches in Alabama's loss to Ole Miss on Saturday.

So much so, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban named Coker the starter for this Saturday's contest versus Louisiana Monroe. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. on the SEC Network.

"Jake came into the game and played with some passion and showed great leadership and energy when he played," Saban said. "We still have things that we need to work on and improve.

"At this point, provided he does the things he's supposed to do, I think we'll start him in this game."

That's the most Saban has provided publicly about the competition all season. Coker finished Saturday's game 21-of-44 for three passing touchdowns while also adding a rushing score.

But it was Coker's fight that received the most praise from his teammates. That and his scrambling ability.

"He's obviously very resilient. He's very mobile if you didn't notice," Tide running back Kenyan Drake said. "It was very sneaky with him being as big as he is, he did have the ability to maneuver in the pocket and the ability to run down the field and make a play. That's definitely something that surprised a lot of people, even people that see him every day."

Added Tide receiver Richard Mullaney, "Just him escaping the pocket, making plays on his feet. I'm not sure really anyone really expected that. But it was good to see him and his leadership throughout the game."

Coker was the Tide's second leading rusher with 58 yards and a score. He had a long of 26 yards and was only sacked once.

Drake said Coker earned even more respect from his teammates with the way he continued to fight back from the low points of the game.

"Everybody had the same type of mentality, not just him, but it was great to see him step into that role and be as resilient as he was on the field and on the sideline," Drake said. "Now it's up to everybody to use this as a learning experience and continue with the momentum we had at the end of the game, cut down on the turnovers and continue to improve."

Still, Coker must clean up the turnovers. He threw two interceptions against the Rebels.

"It still goes back to execution. We can't throw interceptions," Saban said. "Can't throw the ball in the wrong place. We have to execute and do what we need to do to have the whole offense function, and that's something that we need to keep working on. It's our responsibility as coaches to help these guys do better and that's what we're focused on trying to do."

Contact Anniston Star Sports Writer Marq Burnett at mburnett@annistonstar.com. On Twitter:@Marq_Burnett.

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