With 5:12 remaining in the third quarter in Bryant-Denny Stadium, Brian Vogler worked his way to the back of the end zone and reeled in a 5-yard pass from Blake Sims to put Alabama up 35-9 following Adam Griffith’s PAT.
“I heard this guy (on the Southern Mississippi defense) say, ‘I got the tight end!’” Vogler said, “and he got bumped off, and fell down. I looked up, and the ball was there. I was so happy. I was the lucky guy in the right spot. It’s great to finally get (a touchdown) in Bryant-Denny.
“Hopefully, the tight ends will continue to get more involved. I know you guys (in the media) ask me about that all the time. We are really a humble group. I think we’ve been patient all year, and after that touchdown, to see all the tight ends right there (on the sidelines) waiting for me was a great feeling. We’ve been waiting for three games for that one, and I think it’s going to be a fun time in the film room when we watch that (touchdown).”
Vogler was the recipient of one of two touchdown passes on the evening by Sims, who finished 12-of-17 passing for 168 yards in nearly three quarters of play.
“I’m very proud of the way the team executed,” Sims said. “I think I did pretty fair. I can always get better.”
Of his seemingly growing confidence in running the Tide offense, Sims said he felt “a lot more (confidence) as the games go by. I’m trusting the line and receivers more and more.”
One receiver Sims has a lot of trust in (with good reason) is Amari Cooper, who finished with 135 yards and a touchdown on 8 catches. Cooper now has 33 grabs in three games. “I know where Amari Cooper is going to be,” Sims said. “I’m glad to have him on this team.
“One main thing right now is to enjoy this win, and come in (Sunday) afternoon to watch film and get ready for Florida.”
A Tide defender who goes against Sims and Cooper daily agrees, and also sees Sims’ confidence growing. “I’ve had confidence in Blake since day one,” said junior cornerback Cyrus Jones. “I know what kind of athlete he is, and how focused he is. He’s learned that confidence is the key, and you can’t get down on yourself (after a mistake). With any position, experience is the key.” Asked what makes Cooper such a tough guy to cover, Jones didn’t hesitate. “At the line of scrimmage, he’s so shifty. He has real good reflexes. It’s tough to get a hand on him.”
Several USM defenders had a tough time getting a hand on Sims, who rushed for 46 yards on 5 carries with a touchdown. Senior guard Arie Kouandjio said he doesn’t get to watch Sims during games as he’s busy blocking but added, “I love Blake. I came in (five years ago) with Blake. I have confidence in him, but I have confidence in all my teammates.”
Meanwhile, Jones had good things to say about a pair of his less experienced teammates who saw quality snaps Saturday. Of dime back Jabriel Washington, Jones said, “Jabriel is a young guy that’s getting in there and getting game experience, which is making him better. The same is true for (freshman cornerback) Tony (Brown). I think Tony played well. He’s going to be really good.”
Washington was credited with two tackles, and his responsibilities will increase in next week’s Florida game as starting safety Nick Perry must sit out the first half after a targeting ejection against the Eagles. Brown did not have any defensive statistics, but got a number of snaps after starter Eddie Jackson departed with a bruised quad.