Blake Sims Playing Robinson's Role

Alabama coach Nick Saban did not address the media following Saturday's practice in Tuscaloosa. He had things to do, people to see, and other media to speak to.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban hopped a plane following his Crimson Tide's Saturday workout and headed south to Gulf Shores for the inaugural Southeastern Conference BeachFest. There he addressed several thousand Bama fans, and was interviewed by ESPNU's Cara Capuano first on a large concert stage and, minutes later, on a television set for a live cable audience, where Capuano was joined by former Tennessee star Kevin Carter.

One thing Saban said was in response to a fan's question asking who on the Tide scout team would play the role of dynamic Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. The answer? Reserve quarterback/athlete Blake Sims.

Said Saban, "Blake Sims is playing that (Robinson) role. He does a great job of helping our defensive players get ready. He's also played the role of all the great running backs we've faced in the past few years."

(Sims also played the role of Cam Newton prior to the 2010 Iron Bowl).

Saban said he needed a dynamic, athletic player like Sims to emulate Robinson, because "(Robinson) may be one of the most explosive players in college football. He has gradually improved as a passer. He's no longer a one-dimensional player. We've got seven new starters on defense this year, and he's probably the best overall player we'll face this year."

Saban said stopping Robinson will take a team effort and the young Tide defense would "have to have a lot of discipline, or (Robinson) will scramble and make some big plays."

Asked who would be the playmakers on his 2012 defense, Saban singled out linebackers Trey DePriest, Nico Johnson, and C.J. Mosley, safety Vinnie Sunseri and juco transfer/cornerback Deion Belue. "Those are some of the guys who we feel will make the biggest impact," he said. "We've got some young guys on defense who are eager to step into their new roles."

Quite the opposite of his young defense, Saban expects a lot from his uber-experienced offense, where it all starts up front with a mostly veteran line. Then, there's the redshirt junior quarterback who manned the helm for the 2011 national champions.

"A.J. McCarron is an experienced quarterback, and he has explosive players around him," said Saban. "Our offense should be dynamic."

Saban also touched on an idea of having one big conference in college football including the 70 or so top programs. He feels that would lead to more fairness when selecting who makes the coming four-team playoff.

"That way, you'd have 12 games against good teams, and that makes it more fair when it comes time to pick who plays for the championship," said the man who's won three of his own.

Saban was also asked about a remark made by former Tide Coach Gene Stallings, architect of Alabama's 1992 title team. Stallings told the media earlier that he enjoyed watching Saban's teams play because "they don't do all that jumping around and hollering every time they make a play. They just go back to the huddle and get ready for the next play."

Told of that remark, Saban grinned slightly, as if it were music to his ears. "We don't want our guys to get into all that (celebrating) stuff, because it takes away from their focus on the task at hand, which is the next play, We want our players to act a certain way, and they've seen other players in our program buy into that and have success, guys like (current Atlanta Falcon receiver) Julio Jones and (Cleveland Browns rookie running back/Heisman finalist) Trent Richardson. They see how those guys act, and the successes they've had, and it makes them want to buy into the process."

Saban's talk capped a day in which LSU Coach Les Miles and Auburn boss Gene Chizick also spoke to the crowd on the beach. Observers said Saban spoke to "at least twice as many people" as either of his cohorts. In addition to the active coaches, the event also featured appearances by Stallings, former Auburn Coach Pat Dye, Georgia legend Vince Dooley, Stallings's pal R.C. Slocum of Texas A&M, Tennessee's Phil Fulmer, Ole Miss's Billy Brewer, and the venerable 88-year old Arkansas icon Frank Broyles, who also delighted SEC fans as the color analyst for the legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson.

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