Blake Sims’ advice to Jalen Milroe in spring QB competition for Alabama: “Control what you can control”
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Spring practice begins next week for Alabama football, and the most significant conversation comes at starting quarterback.
The Crimson Tide graduates Bryce Young to the National Football League.
He delivered the program its first Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback and totaled 8,200 passing yards with 79 passing touchdowns in his time as a starter. Young guided the Tide to a Southeastern Conference Championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in 2021. He took Alabama to a victory in the Allstate Sugar Bowl last season against Kansas State. The 5-foot-10, 204-pounder expects to be the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
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Alabama has four guys pushing for the job.
Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson are the primary two in the competition, as Eli Holstein and Dylan Lonergan must learn the playbook and culture. Milroe saw action in two SEC games in 2022, including his first career start versus Texas A&M.
He suffered three turnovers, but Milroe also accounted for three touchdowns – pushing Alabama to a 24-20 victory. He replaced an injured Young against Arkansas and displayed his athleticism. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder tallied 65 passing yards, 91 rushing yards, and two touchdowns against the Razorbacks. He is gifted athletically, but some fans have written him off because he is not a deadly accurate passer yet.
Some feel Simpson is the better choice at quarterback; however, a former Crimson Tide signal-caller understands the situation Milroe is in. Before he set the school’s single-season record for passing yards (3,487) and total touchdowns (35), few people wanted Blake Sims to start at quarterback in 2014. He did not have a great spring game, and people expected Jacob Coker to come from Florida State and take the job. Sims went to work in the summer, improved his mechanics, won the job, and took the Tide to an SEC title in his lone year as a starter. Sims got written off in the preseason, but the native Georgian got the last laugh.
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He supports both players, but Sims had some advice for Milroe on Tuesday’s airing of The Bama Standard.
“Control what you can control, that is my advice to Jalen,” Sims said. “Be where your feet are and be the best that you can be. Have faith in God and in what he decides to do.”
Sims proved his doubters wrong, but he said the chemistry with Lane Kiffin helped. Alabama hired Kiffin in 2014 as offensive coordinator. He gave the Tide an upgrade and gave Sims the confidence he needed to have a great year.
“Lane had to build that confidence in me, and I had to build that courage in myself,” Sims said.
Sims had a moment where he went to Kiffin and Nick Saban because he wanted to speed the offense up, and both listened. Alabama scored 40+ points in eight games in 2014 by running a fast-paced offense. Sims got Kiffin to listen to him, but he said Tommy Rees must ‘learn Milroe.’
“One of my coaching theories is when I coach a player, I want to get to know them,” he said.
“If I yell at him and he sticks his head between his legs, then I am not going to yell at him. I’m going to yell at him, but I will know the right time to do it. If I have a player and he’s playing bad, and I yell at him, and he gets his wheels turning, I am on you the whole game. You must know your players before you coach them. Take time to learn your players, take them out to eat, and eat with them because then you are trying to understand them. If he does not face adversity well, pull him to the side and let him know he’s okay. If I was not doing well, Coach Saban would cuss me out, but I had AJ McCarron, Alec Morris, Alex Mortensen, and Kiffin to pick me up. It is all about who is backing Jalen up. He has to be comfortable and understand that everyone is rocking with him.”
Sims knows that it comes down to Milroe doing what he needs to do to win the locker room, win Coach Saban, and win the job. He wants to see both quarterbacks do well; however, he does not like seeing Milroe get written off.
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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.