Sims, Cooper Make Saban Happy About Offense

Following Alabama’s 42-21 win over Florida Saturday, there was a suspicion that Crimson Tide quarterback Blake Sims might be the Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week. And if not Sims, perhaps Bama wide receiver Amari Cooper.

After all, Blake Sims had completed 23 of 33 passes for 445 yards – second most in Alabama history – with four touchdowns, and Amari Cooper had made 10 pass receptions for 201 yards and three touchdowns, along the way becoming the Bama record-holder for career touchdowns with numbers 18, 19, and 20.

Perceptive Alabama followers keeping up with a later SEC game, though, suspected the league offensive award would be presented to Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott, who was orchestrating an upset of LSU in Baton Rouge. Prescott had 268 passing yards and 105 rushing.

As it turned out, all worthy candidates were rewarded. Sims was the Walter Camp Offensive Player of the Week for the nation. Cooper and Prescott shared the SEC Offensive Player of the Week honor.

It will be awhile before either of the Tide stars is in contention. Bama has an open date this week, resuming practice today for the Oct. 4 game against Ole Miss in Oxford.

The open date comes at a good time for Sims, who briefly left last Saturday’s game after being injured on a running play that picked up 24 yards.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said that Sims suffered a “slight shoulder bruise” and that he expected him to recover with no problems. The injury is to his right (throwing) shoulder. The coach did say that Sims would likely be limited in practice this week.

Perhaps the statistic most talked about following the Tide’s win over Florida was Bama having total offense of 645 yards, the most ever allowed by a Gators defense. That was possible in part because of another statistic.

Alabama was succcessful on 12 of 16 third down opportunities.

Saban discussed that aspect of Sims’ play Saturday.

He said, “I thought Blake did a really good job on third down all day. We had several third-and-shorts, but we had some third-and-longs that we converted. When Blake takes what the defense gives, he’s instinctive and he makes good plays and decisions.

“He made a couple of nice plays scrambling today, which is going to be a real asset for him. People have to respect him as a passer. He has made too many plays and too many good throws for people to not respect him as a passer. He’s done a really good job for us.”

Cooper’s performance came in the most anticipated game within the game. The junior was matched against Florida’s outstanding cornerback, Vernon Hargreaves III, with Cooper the clear winner.

Saban said, “We figured that Will Florida Coach Will Muschamp) would match him up with [Amari, but we were going to try to get the ball to Coop. One big play we had called back because we were in an illegal formation, which is another example of lack of discipline and lack of attention to detail kind of penalty. Coop did a great job in the game. We have a lot of respect for their No. 1 guy (Hargreaves). He is a very good player. But when you have matchups like that with two good players, I think when you analyze the whole thing; both guys will end up making some plays.”

Generally, Saban said, “[T]here were some things we did extremely well, and there were things that were sloppy. I thought in the second half we really controlled the game. Obviously, the turnovers were a huge factor in the game, given that they scored 21 points off them. We were able to gain control of the line of scrimmage and were able to run the ball effectively.

“We made big plays on offense; some of them were actually planned designs if they were in a certain look. We got the looks and we made big plays, including our first play (Sims to Kenyan Drake 87-yard pass) and Cooper’s long pass (79 yards from Sims) in the first half.

“We had four turnovers, and three of them led to scores. That’s something we need to clean up. We had 11 penalties, which is also something we need to clean up. We had 645 yards on offense, and I think defensively you have to think we did some good things. We just were inconsistent and sloppy at times, and we need to improve on that. They’re all correctable issues.

“Defensively, I thought we really played well in the game. We did a good job in coverage for the most part. We were able to stop the run, which is something they really hung their hat on.

“I’m really proud of the way our guys overcame adversity in this game. I wish we didn’t do the bad things but we did them. “We hung in there and we played the next play. We eventually got control of the game, which speaks a lot about the competitive nature that the players have. They just kept hanging in there.”

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