In preparation for the 2014 college football season, Saturday Down South takes a look at the X-factor for every SEC team. Not only do these players have the opportunity to make major contributions for their respective squads, but they could also be the difference in a successful season or a losing season.

Today, we’re discussing the X-factor for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

X-Factor Series:

QB Jacob Coker

Alabama is loaded just about everywhere in 2014 – as usual. However, the biggest question mark for the Crimson Tide will be the quarterback position.

Perception around the Alabama football program is that since they are so dominant in every other position, their quarterbacks need to focus more on being “game managers” rather than “game changers.” That’s true to some extent, as players like Greg McElroy and A.J. McCarron were never the flashiest of QBs, but they were an integral part of the team’s National Championship runs in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

The same will go for Jacob Coker. He’s just transferred into the program and projects to be the team’s starting quarterback. If he earns the job as expected, he’ll be tasked with following in the footsteps of McCarron and McElroy – quarterbacks that excelled at limiting mistakes on the field – something which can never be understated in college football.

For his career, Coker hasn’t really received enough reps to showcase what all he can do with just 41 career passing attempts. But the hype surrounding Coker is growing. At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, Coker has an ideal frame for the position and is able to generate a lot of arm strength behind his throws.

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Head coach Nick Saban has recently praised Coker’s efforts in the team’s first few practices this fall.

He’s a very athletic guy, he’s got the right character, attitude, work ethic,” Saban said. “He’s really fit in well with the other players in terms of the kind of personality he has and how they can relate to him. All those things have been extremely positive.”

With elite arm strength, Coker has the potential to open up Alabama’s offense even more, making it that much easier for their talented running backs – T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry – to gash defenses up the middle. And while he’s never been a starter in college football before, if there’s a coaching staff that could have him ready by the start of the season, it would be Nick Saban and his staff.

Saban went on to describe just how much Coker’s presence could mean for the Crimson Tide offense this fall.

He’s a very conscientious guy, he wants to do things right in terms of knowledge and understanding systematically the offense, making the right decisions, getting the ball to the right place. We’re encouraged by what he’s done. We’re not disappointed at all. He’s been a real positive addition to our program.”

Never underestimate the quarterback position, especially at Alabama. Because of their high-end talent at all the other positions, it’s easy for their quarterbacks to not stand out from the crowd. Regardless, it’s still the most important position on the field and Coker could be the difference maker in leading yet another Alabama squad to greatness in 2014.