Blake Sims Cements Spot As No. 2 QB

Here was the conventional wisdom prior to the start of the 2013 season insofar as a back-up quarterback and/or the successor to AJ McCarron. At least my wisdom. Blake Sims had never exhibited the style one would expect from a Nick Saban offense. Sims, however, had exhibited great athleticism.

Blake Sims is a 6-0, 202-pound fourth-year junior at Alabama. When he arrived on the Crimson Tide campus, he was ranked a four-star player, but not as a quarterback – the position he had played at Gainesville (Ga.) High School. He was projected as a wide receiver, but soon after joining Bama exhibted good qualities as a running back, where he played in 2011 after redshirting in 2010.

He played in five games in 2011 while Philip Sims was vying with A.J. McCarron for number one quarterback. Blake rushed 22 times for 107 yards (40 on one play) for a 4.9 yards per carry average. He caught two passes for 18 yards. Passing? Nada.

Nevertheless, the thought in those early days was that he might make a good wildcat, the hybrid running back/quarterback position then in vogue.

Last year he was one of the back-up quarterbacks, along with Philip Ely. Ely was considered by many to be the likely back-up (and possibly McCarron successor) but Ely gave up the competition following spring practice. Meanwhile, Sims played in 10 games and completed five of 10 passes for 77 yards, but also ran 30 times for 187 yards and two touchdowns.

As Alabama prepared for this season, it was reasonable to conjecture that Sims would be the short-term solution if McCarron had to leave the game for a brief time. He could come in and be a run-pass threat and give the opponent a different look.

That same logic suggested that someone like Alec Morris, a 6-3, 230-pound redshirt freshman would be the long-term solution, McCarron being out for a game or more. Morris is a true pro-style quarterback. And if not Morris, perhaps one of three true freshmen quarterbacks who came in last spring – Cooper Bateman (6-3, 208), Parker McLeod (6-3, 193), or Luke Del Rio (6-2, 203).

But last week against Georgia State, a different message was delivered. Blake Sims wasn't running. He was running the offense.

Blake Sims replaced McCarron in the second quarter of the romp over Georgia State, but he didn't look like the Blake Sims of old. He did have two runs for 10 yards, but his impressive numbers were as a passer. He completed 14 of 18 passes for 130 yards with no interceptions and one touchdown. Along with McCarron hitting 15-16 passes, Sims became part of an Alabama record with 29-34 for an 85.3 per cent completion rate. The old Alabama record for completion percentage in a game was 80 per cent on 21-26 passes, a record that dated from 1950 against Southern Miss.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said, "Blake did a really good job in the game. There are a lot of other things that Blake can do to be effective because he's an athletic guy; he's a very good runner, capable of running on quarterback runs.

"We didn't really want to do that in this game.

"We wanted him to play quarterback in our offense, which I thought he did a very good job of. He has improved to a large degree as a passer, his judgment has improved as a passer and I think he has to continue to have confidence in his ability to pass and know that he doesn't have to make plays with his feet all the time, which I think this last game helped him in that regard."

One person who noticed was McCarron. "Blake did a good job," McCarron said. "Came in, took command of the offense the way he was supposed to, was efficient with the ball. I was proud of him."

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