Blake Sims is No. 3-ranked Alabama’s quarterback. Bottom line, period, end of discussion. As of now, there is no Alabama quarterback controversy.
Certainly that change: He can have an abysmal game Saturday against a Florida Gators team in need of a statement win. Sims can get injured, heaven forbid. Florida State transfer Jacob Coker isn’t predestined to spend the 2014 season on the sideline, only playing in mop-up situations.
But barring an intervention of fate, the Alabama offense is Sims to run. That may not sit well with a certain faction of Tide fans, but the writing was one the wall last week when Sims took the lion’s share of snaps.
Sims even took the field early in the second half against Southern Miss with the outcome no longer in doubt (not that it ever was, mind you), an obvious measure to get him more comfortable in preparation for the SEC opener.
It’s rather interesting, if not confounding, that a boisterous part of the Alabama fan base is so hot on Coker being the No. 1 quarterback. Sims has outplayed Coker on game day, winning the confidence of his own locker room–Nick Saban included. Via Charlie Potter of BamaOnline.com:
“I’ve been really surprised, in a good way, with the way Blake Sims has played,” Saban said. “The confidence that he’s gained and the way he’s played, the leader that he’s become and how he’s affected his teammates and how they trust and believe in him.”
The anti-Sims lot is being egged on by media members who were ready to launch the Coker For Heisman campaign before he ever practiced with the Crimson Tide.
A similar argument bubbled in the offseason for USC, where a contingent of vocal supporters–some fans, some media–touted the quarterback controversy between redshirt freshman Max Browne and returning starter Cody Kessler.
Kessler led USC to a 10-win 2013 and was playing his best football when the season concluded, but the arrival of a new coaching staff sparked hope of a quarterback competition for those who are into such things. New head coach Steve Sarkisian named Kessler the starter before the end of the season, a decision met with minor backlash.
Kessler’s played two of the best games of his career early in the 2014 season, but that only tells part of the story. I cover USC and at the Trojans practices, it’s apparent Kessler is the No. 1. He’s older, more consistent and just plays with more familiarity of both the playbook and his teammates.
Needless to say, I’m not at Alabama’s practices, but I tend to believe the ardent Coker supporters might walk back their rhetoric if they were.
Because redshirt freshmen like Jameis Winston (who beat out Coker at Florida State) and Johnny Manziel (a one-time Alabama slayer) take the college football scene by storm, or because a Russell Wilson can transfer into Wisconsin and elevate the Badgers offense, doesn’t mean just anyone can do the same.
There’s something to be said for experience, both overall and within a particular locker room. Sims and Coker came into the season about as tested in game situations–which is to say, hardly at all. But Sims had the advantage of playing with his Crimson Tide teammates in practice for years. It really shouldn’t be so surprising that he’s the choice for No. 1.
And at the end of the day, Nick Saban is a lot more qualified to make that decision than Paul Finebaum is.