Blake Sims and the Not Yet Ready For Prime Time Quarterbacks
By: Larry Burton
While they may have had some great practices in closed sessions let’s call it as we saw it. The group of quarterbacks Alabama fielded yesterday reminded me of the first season of Saturday Night Live who called themselves, the “Not Yet Ready for Prime Time Players”.
Based on the stats we as the press were given from the first two scrimmages we weren’t allowed to see, I fully expected an offensive explosion in the A Day Game. And while there were a few fireworks that were pleasant to see, there were a lot more duds.
Two Scrimmages Prior to A Day A Day Scrimmage
Alec Morris – 13-19 – 147 yards – 1 TD 3-7- 9 yards – 0 TD
11.31 YPC – 1 TD every 13 comp. – 68.4% ratio 1 INT – 3.0 YPC – 0 TD – 43% ratio
Blake Sims – 40-62-455 yards – 5 TD 13-30-178 yards – 1 TD
11.375 YPC – 1 TD every 12.4 comp. – 64.5% 2 INTS – 1 TD every 13 comp. – 43.3%
Cooper Bateman-30-56-262 yards-2 TD 11-24-136 yards – 1 TD
8.7 YPC – 1 TD every 28 comp. – 53.6% 12.36 YPC – 1 TD every 11 comp. – 45.8%
The other quarterbacks never completed a pass.
So if you were looking for offensive firepower, the problem isn’t the bullets that can fly from that weapon, but the guy pulling the trigger.
So for all the folks that think that Blake Sims is progressing to the point to be the starter, it’s clear he isn’t there yet and the rest of the cast may be “Not Ready For Prime Time” at this time either.
This reminds me of a time before McElroy and McCarron, when the best quarterback in the fan’s eyes was always the next quarterback. And in this case, the “next” quarterback is Jacob Coker.
Saban, in his post game gave reasons for the quarterback’s lack of production that ranged from a limited playbook to keep Lane Kiffin’s playbook under wraps and the fact that Sims was trying to keep from running the ball more.
Still, when the most productive quarterback on the roster is a redshirt freshman with no game experience and that his “winning” production was a miserable 45.8% completion ratio, it’s time for head scratching.
And it just wasn’t the low completion ratio but the interceptions that were thrown as well. It’s clear that this more than a day of bad mechanics, but also one of bad decisions. While Bateman may have squeaked out a narrow completion percentage victory, Morris at least won the day throwing far fewer throws for the nearly the same completion ratio, but he was the only quarterback with stats who didn’t turn it over.
Now the questions are, will Jacob Coker be the great knight to come in save the day for the Tide this season? It’s hard to believe that a man with his experience, arm and size can’t come in and simply blow these stats away. Or will the insertion of Coker ignite one of the other quarterbacks to raise his game to such an extent that they become the leader the team needs?
Only time will tell and Coker will be on campus very soon to start winning over the players in summer throwing drills and 7 on 7 competition. By fall, the players will know how the competition shook itself out and it will be long before Saban announces the conclusion of the quarterback battle.
Players see, feel and instinctively are drawn to the leaders of the team. Every player I ever talked to without exception all knew that AJ McCarron would be their leader in the Sims / McCarron battle. It was no slur on Phillip Sims, they just saw that McCarron was more than a better thrower, but a leader, smart, savvy and driven.
But most of all, he made less mistakes, turned the ball over less, took less sacks and handled pressure situations better.
While Sims had almost as many pass attempts as all the other quarterbacks combined, it’s somewhat understanding that he made more mistakes and ultimately, more turnovers. But on the other side of the coin, he also had a better opportunity to get into a rhythm and shine too and of course everyone saw that he didn’t.
So while it’s easy to point fingers and say this group of quarterbacks aren’t ready for “Prime Time”, it’s not show time yet and there is lots of time till the curtain rises and they’ll be lots of twists and turns that will take place in the competition to peak our interest. And if you think this was an indication of Lane Kiffin’s ability as an offensive coordinator then you need to realize you haven’t seen his offense yet.
Alabama will have their quarterbacks ready by the beginning of the season and they be polishing themselves through the first easy games of the season. By crunch time, they’ll be ready, whoever and how many of them the Tide will need. At least that’s the scenario that Nick Saban would have you believe and so far, have Alabama fans had reason to doubt anything Nick Saban has said so far?
But those are stories for another day and we’ll all just wait and see what happens.