We keep hearing how much Tide QB Jake Coker has improved, but there’s not much statistical evidence backing up that idea.

I’m not saying Coker hasn’t proven to be a great quarterback for Alabama. I’m saying he’s actually been doing well all season, but we’ve just been slow to accept it.

Don’t get me wrong, Coker has had his struggles. He’s thrown eight interceptions on the season, and he’s thrown 17 touchdown passes on 338 attempts.

But he has led the Tide to the No. 4 ranking in passing efficiency in the SEC. He follows the three most talked-about — in a good way — about quarterbacks in the conference: Brandon Allen (Arkansas), Dak Prescott (Mississippi State) and Chad Kelly (Ole Miss).

I mean, is it a coincidence that the only game the Crimson Tide lost this year was the one Coker didn’t start?

Tide QB Cooper Bateman got the start against the No. 15 Rebels, and with less than five minutes left in the first half, Alabama was down 17-3. Coker came into the game, and scored a touchdown on his first drive. He staged a near comeback, though his turnovers certainly contributed to the loss.

Thankfully, Coker has improved in that area, and his last turnover was against No. 17 Mississippi State. Against the No. 18 Gators, Coker was 18 of 26 for 204 yards and 2 TDs in the 29-15 win over the SEC East champion. And most importantly, he avoided an interception.

You can make the argument that the Tide receivers are making Coker look good. In the SEC Championship Game, WRs Calvin Ridley, ArDarius Stewart and Richard Mullaney all made ridiculously awesome catches, despite the heavy coverage by Florida defenders.

Ridley set up Alabama for its first touchdown of the game late in the second quarter against the Gators.

Stewart sealed the deal with his catch late in the third quarter.

But you really can’t say Coker has had nothing to do with Alabama’s success. And he has shown he can scramble with the best of them.

His teammates and coaches really started to respect him after his very physical performance against No. 9 Texas A&M in October.

Last week, Coker avoided multiple Auburn defenders in the backfield to get the touchdown pass to Stewart.

Not only did Coker have a pretty impressive passing performance against the Gators, but he also had 8 carries, which brings him to 66 carries on the season. That means that only Tide RBs Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake have more rushing attempts than the quarterback.

There were more designed quarterback keeps in this game than I’ve seen from Alabama all season long.

If we compare Coker’s performance in the season opener and his performance in the SEC Championship, he actually had a slightly better passing game against the Badgers.

The bigger improvement came in his run game, but the biggest came in his level of confidence.

And it wasn’t just his confidence in himself that changed the game. It was his teammates’ and coaches’ confidence in him that helped him become a forceful and effective quarterback.

It’s this confidence and his consistent performance that will lead Alabama in the playoffs.