Two-thirds of the way into the 2014 season, Alabama is 7-1 overall and 4-1 in Southeastern Conference play and in contention for both the SEC and national championships. A primary reason for the Crimson Tide’s success has been the play of Blake Sims.
Sims won the starting job for the opening game and has been a very solid performer, probably more effective than anyone would have suspected. The 6-0, 208-pound fifth-year senior ranks among the best in the SEC, including leading the leage in passing efficiency, yards per completion (15.5 yards), and yards per attempt (10.2) among starting quarterbacks.
He has completed 131 of 200 passes for 2,034 yards with 15 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He has completed 65.5 per cent of his passes and has averaged 254.2 yards per game passing, which is fifth best in the conference. He is sixth in completions and fifth in passing touchdowns.
Sims is also Alabama’s third leading rusher with 46 carries for 250 net yards (5.4 yards per carry) with five touchdowns.
“Blake has played really well for us,” Alabama Coach Nick Saban said this week. “We really keep striving for consistency. He's made a tremendous amount of plays for us. He's very instinctive. But most of the time when we have a bad play, it's self-inflicted. I mean, we're in the wrong formation. We didn't call the play right. Or we didn't read things right.
“Those are things that are correctable and we keep fixing and we keep getting better at those things. But for us to be really good, we have to eliminate as many of those as possible.”
An interesting addition to the Alabama offensive aresenal this year has been Sims in the zone read, meaning he has the option to hand off to a runner inside or, if he sees the defense taking the tailback, he can keep the ball and go outside. In last week’s 34-20 win over Tennessee, Sims scored from 28 yards out on the zone read to give Bama a 27-0 lead in Knoxville.
Saban said, “I think anytime you have an athletic quarterback who is a threat to run -- scramble, pull the ball on the zone read – that is always a little bit of an issue for the defense because the guy can take off running and make plays with his feet. Blake has that ability and picked the times that he’s done it extremely well.
“We’re more of a pro-style offense and not really a quarterback-run team, but we have been able to utilize his effectiveness in certain sittuations that have been vry helpful to us.”
Saban said there are not really planned runs for Sims, that his non-scramble runs have been zone reads and for the most part he has handed the ball off.
Sims will continue to be mostly effective as a passer, but his threat as a runner has to give upcoming opponents pause.
Those upcoming opponents begin with Alabama’s game at LSU a week from Saturday, Oct. 8.