Which questions do you feel are the ones that best fit the ones that you may be thinking.
If Blake Sims is the Answer, There are a Lot More Questions
By: Larry Burton
If Blake Sims is the answer to Alabama’s quarterback woes, then it only brings more questions that need to be asked. So here is a two part article with slants both negative and positive. Decide for yourself which one fits what you think.
1. If Sims is the best we have, just how bad has Jacob Coker and Alec Morris practiced?
2. Is this all we can expect from Sims?
3. Is it true that Coker is injured and Saban wanted it kept under wraps?
4. Since the Tide struggled, and I may as well say it, struggled a lot, with a rather hapless West Virginia team, now the question is can they survive a team with offensive weapons that the Mountaineers didn’t have and keep pace putting points on the board with say a Texas A&M, Auburn and perhaps an Ole Miss with Sims?
5. Was this the sole start that Sims will make? Was this start given to Sims for being a loyal soldier all these years? Now that Sims has “starting quarterback at Alabama” on his resume, has he been repaid enough for those years of loyalty?
6. So when does the public get to see Coker take some meaningful snaps and battle for the job?
7. How could everyone who knows Coker, like his former coach Jimbo Fisher, NFL scouting and drafting experts, media that watched Coker for years and basically everyone in the press be wrong about Coker being so much better than Sims?
Saban tried to put a good spin on Sims’ performance by saying that while he did miss a few wide open players, he also had some people drop passes. That’s true. But some of the misses that Sims had were ones that killed drives or were just plain bad. There was little evidence that Sims has mastered the technique of leading a receiver and making balls easily to catch. Remember, this Mountaineer defense is one that isn’t considered very good and the defensive secondary isn’t as good as others an Alabama quarterback will face.
One of the passes that Saban alluded to was one to Christion Jones where he was hung out to dry waiting for a ball to get to him. Perhaps Jones dropped the ball because he knew that if a receiver stands or slows for more than two seconds waiting for the ball to get there that he’s going to be killed the instant the ball touches him. It’s a awful feeling to have to wait for a ball knowing that every defensive back in division one football can cover 20 yards in just over two seconds to deliver a hit. See the video: The Christion Jones missed catch
Should Jones have caught the pass however? Sure. He’ll be the first to say so. But the drop was at least understandable for someone who knows football and the anxiety of a receiver who has to wait for a ball to get to you.
Other drops were short passes thrown at the knees or below. No quarterback throws every pass in the easiest to catch fashion and this is not a knock on Sims that he wasn’t better. But when passes are missed very badly when there is no pressure on the quarterback you do have to wonder about why a guy in the system as long as Sims’ has been at Alabama still hasn’t gotten past that.
To his credit though, Sims did quarterback a team that did win the game, did complete some pressure passes and showed athleticism in escaping the pocket and making some fine runs. But again, even on some completions, the throws weren’t in stride and made receivers wait for the ball. Sims was not the reason that Alabama won the game and he wasn’t the biggest problem on the Crimson Tide’s team. The best you could say about Sims’ performance was that he proved adequate.
The Alabama Nation is waiting to see for themselves how Coker will do with some meaningful time and if he is not the answer, then how quickly can Sims improve?
But the real question that remains after Sims’ first outing is simple. Can the Tide win it all with him as a starter? That remains to be seen, but it seems in greater doubt now than before.
It boils down to one thing, winning and Alabama did that with Sims at quarterback. While some rookie quarterbacks come out of the gate like wildfire, as in Texas A&M’s Kenny Hill did this week against South Carolina, that’s not the norm. So the real questions to be answered are:
1. Since Sims did go out and win his first game as a starter, will the fans cut Sims a little slack now and let him continue to grow?
2. Will this start and win bolster Sims’ confidence, thus affecting his accuracy and technique?
3. Isn’t it true that most rookie quarterbacks didn’t have as good a day as Sims had and that’s a good sign of better things to come?
4. Do fans really think that Nick Saban doesn’t know what he’s doing starting and playing Sims almost exclusively?
5. Though there were some shaky moments early in the game, wasn’t is clear to all that Sims settled down and into his role as the game went on?
6. Why isn’t 250 yards of passing and a quarterback rating of 76 not good enough for the Crimson Tide fans to stop wanting to see Coker?
In his post game press conference, Saban defended Sims’ play and thought that though there some shaky moments, that he was pleased how he settled down and led the team. Sims completed several passes he had to that sustained drives. He wasn’t scared to throw from right at his own endzone into coverage and made some timely runs including a 21 yard scamper. That’s something we haven’t seen from many Alabama quarterbacks.
Plus, Sims did something that even great Alabama quarterbacks like Brody Croyle never did, he brought them from behind to a victory. Yes Alabama didn’t cover the spread and live up to the expectations of both the media or the fans, but they won and won by double digits. This may not have been a “pretty win” but I’m sure the Tide faithful would rather have an ugly win over a valiant loss.
The question, “Can Alabama win with Sims at starting quarterback?” has been answered with a yes. While no one knows if they can win them all with Sims at quarterback anymore than they know if Sims will remain the starting quarterback, it’s nice to know that he’s there, that he’s a winner and that he’ll only get better.
What say the readers? Use the comment section below and let us know how you feel.
Larry is an award winning writer whose work has appeared in almost every college football venue. Now he primarily writes for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter