Sims Sheds A Jersey As Kickoff Nears

As if things weren't big enough as Alabama prepares to play Notre Dame for the national championship, consider the burden of a player having two jobs – one of which has ended as kickoff approaches.

Alabama, 12-1 and ranked second in the nation, goes for its second consecutive BCS National Championship, at 8:30 p.m. EST (7:30 central time) today against number one Notre Dame (12-0) at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. ESPN will televise the game.

Blake Sims has been wearing two jerseys. As a part of Crimson Tide preparation, Sims has been Bama's scout team quarterback, playing the role of Notre Dame's Everett Golson. With preparation complete, Sims has transitioned to his position as Alabama's back-up quarterback.

Doug Nussmeier, Alabama's quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, said, "It depends on the opponent we're playing. He plays on the scout team when he has an opportunity to present a look for our defense that is going to help prepare them. And then he's down with us when he's doing the things for our offense.

"A lot is asked of him from a preparation standpoint. The biggest thing is he needs to get in and study. He's learning the quarterback position daily. Every day is a new challenge for him."

Sims, a 6-0, 205-pound sophomore, has played in nine games this year and 15 for his career. When he has played this year, it has been in mop-up work. He threw only 10 passes, completing five for 77 yards. He had 30 rushes for 187 yards (6.2 per carry) and two touchdowns (against Arkansas and Western Carolina).

Sims believes he has helped his team prepare for the national championship game.

"I've been asked to take a role to help our defense perform very well, execute very well, against a great opponent," he said Saturday. "I think I've done a good job and as the days get close to the game, I think everything is coming together real well."

Now Sims has shed the No. 6 scout team jersey indicating Golson and will be in his familiar No. 5. After being Everett Golson, is he ready to be Blake Sims?

"Yes, sir," he said. "It's a two-role thing, getting the team ready by playing Everett Golson and also getting myself ready to play, but it's not very hard because we are similar in the way we play quarterback. It's fun for me. I'm going against our good defensive players. Anytime you have a chance to play another game, help your team move on, help win another game is good. Every athlete loves to win. I think I'm in a position to help our team."

The dual role meant that Sims had to learn the Notre Dame offense to perform as Golson and had to learn the Fighting Irish defense to be prepared in the event he has to relieve A.J. McCarron at quarterback for the Tide. He said, "We have a lot of respect for the Notre Dame defense. Getting ready for them is not particularly hard, but it's not easy, either, because you want to know your opponent better than they know themselves."

Many believe Sims might be more suited to wildcat work, that hybrid halfback-quarterback position. Sims said, "Wildcat is very, very good. When I come in it changes the tempo of the game. AJ is a very, very good quarterback, and he has taught me a lot. But we are two different quarterbacks with two different tempos. I like the wildcat a lot. You can't tell what might come next year."

Sims will spot a familiar face on the Notre Dame sideline. Tyler Jones is a wide receiver for the Irish. At Gainesville (Georgia) High School he was Sims' wide receiver.

"We were able to get together on Thursday," he said. "We were very happy to see each other, but we're very competitive people."

And now?

"I feel good," Sims said. "I'm ready for the lights to come on and let everyone see a great team play."

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