The biggest question in the Alabama football camp regarding injury has been whether quarterback Blake Sims has recovered from the shoulder bruise that took him out of Bama’s last game nearly two weeks ago.
Sims has been outstanding in his first year as starting quarterback of the Crimson Tide, but his injury came just as Alabama was beginning Southeastern Conference play. This week Bama faces what Coach Nick Saban has called his team’s “biggest challenge.”
Alabama, ranked first in the nation in the Coaches Poll and third by the Associated Press, heads to Oxford to take on 11th-ranked Ole Miss. Both teams are 4-0 overall and 1-0 in SEC games. Kickoff will be at 2:30 p.m. CDT with television coverage by CBS.
Although there have been unconfirmed reports that Sims has not been throwing in practice, Saban has pointed out that his quarterback has been on a “pitch count,” limiting the number of passes while his shoulder heals.
On Wednesday, Saban said, “Blake’s fine. He’s done really well. Hasn’t had any issues or problems. Looks like his old self, I would not know that he was ever hurt based on the way he’s practiced and the way he’s played. He hasn’t had any discomfort at all after doing it, which I think is the real key to it.”
Alabama is also expected to have cornerback Eddie Jackson back for Saturday’s game. Jackson has a history of injuries that have limited his practice time, which in turn affects his ability to play in games. While Jackson has been on the mend this season, true freshman Tony Brown has been getting more playing time at cornerback.
Asked about that competition, Saban said, “It’s still playing out. Still playing out. It’s not done. Incomplete.
“Tony has really progressed very nicely for us and made really good progress, so we're pleased with that. We have no problem playing young players, but we also try to protect our players and make sure that they've got enough knowledge and experience and understanding of what's expected of them before we sort of throw them in there. Tony got to play probably almost half the game in a couple of games prior to the Florida game.
“Eddie's been battling injuries and that created an opportunity for Tony, and he did do a pretty good job. We continue to work with him everyday in practice so that he can continue to improve. I think experience is important to any player being able to play well so that they can maintain focus and be able to execute on a consistent basis.
“Young players, the only way they get the experience is to play them. That's kind of been our plan with Tony to this point.”
Earlier Saban had also reported that Jarrick Williams, who had started at star (Alabama’s nickel back position), was making progress after having suffered a fracture in his foot earlier this season. Also missing work recently has been wide receiver DeAndrew White, who was limited in at least part of practice this week.
This week Saban added to the health report.
He said tailback Tyren Jones “ tore a tendon in his finger, which required surgery. So he’ll be out probably for several weeks.
“(Offensive lineman) Grant Hill is ill and has missed practice the past few days because of illness. We’re trying to help him get well and we’ll see when he’ll be back and be able to contribute to the team. But he’s very questionable for this game based on what he’s missed so far.”