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('BamaMag members get 10% off their entire package)“We fought hard during the summer. In the spring, we said that the little things would matter.”
Sims’ predecessor, Cincinnati Bengals backup A.J. McCarron, tweeted, “Congrats to my boy @_bsims6 on breaking the single season passing record. A proud mentor and big brother. You deserve it, bro.” Sims now leads McCarron in single season passing yardage. He now has 3,250 yards this year.
Before the game, Tide Coach Nick Saban said, “I told Blake I wanted him to play this game like ‘Cool Hand Luke.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Who the hell is that?’
“ Can we get a remake of ‘Cool Hand Luke?’”
While Sims may not be up on Paul Newman’s filmography, his 281 yards of total offense set an Alabama record for a player in the SEC title game. His completion percentage (85.2) is an SEC Championship game record. As always, the humble Sims took no credit. “Our offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage,” he said.
Added senior tight end Brian Vogler: “Blake’s niche all season was he was playing with a chip on his shoulder. That’s a dangerous thing.” The “chip” Vogler refers to is the way the Alabama nation conceded the quarterback job to FSU transfer Jake Coker. Sims had other ideas, and now he leads his team to the first ever College Football Playoff, which will be announced Sunday morning.
“Blake (Sims) did great,” said fellow fifth year man Arie Kouandjio. “Blake is a great guy. He’s waited on his chance. We all respect the way he is off the field: trustworthy and sincere. He’s just a great person.”
Junior receiver Amari Cooper (83 yards on a title game record 12 catches) said since the team’s last trip to Atlanta for an August win over West Virginia,” Blake’s grown. He’s a much better player. He’s more confident. He listens when (offensive coordinator) Coach (Lane) Kiffin tells him what to do.”
Always his own worst critic, Cooper said of his game Saturday, “I wanted to do great things on the field. I think I could have gotten a lot more out of my catches today.”
Cooper had some advice for anyone scouting his team for the first ever playoffs: “We’re a very relentless team. We’ve been that way since spring and summer workouts. To get through our ‘fourth quarter program,’ you have to be relentless.”
Senior receiver Christion Jones, who re-emerged offensively with 40 yards on three grabs and a touchdown, said of the win, “This brings back memories from 2012 (beating Georgia for the league crown). Just a great win for this team.”
Defensively, Missouri converted 6 of 16 on third downs, several on third and long. Said junior defensive end D.J. Pettway, “We wanted to get off the field on third down, but we didn’t play too well there ‘for a minute.’ That’s a bad feeling, but we don’t get down on ourselves. We just keep coming with it.”
Of his return to the Tide after a year at East Mississippi Community College, Pettway said, “My teammates welcomed me with open arms. It was like I hadn’t even been gone. I love my teammates, the great atmosphere at Alabama, and playing for a brilliant coach (in Nick Saban).”
Added senior Jack linebacker Xzavier Dickson, “This team here, we just fight. We have each other’s back on every play, every series and every game. On defense, we’re playing good, but we have some things we can be better at.
“(Playoff wise), we’ll see which opponent shows up. We just have to go out there and play ‘Bama ball.’ We’re pretty confident.
Several players in the open locker room said the 2014 team has a special chemistry. One, speaking for the first time to the press, was freshman punter JK Scott. “I think this team’s really grown to love each other,” he said after averaging 43.3 yards on three punts. “Everyone accepts each other, and we all treat each other the same.”
Senior safety Nick Perry, who enjoyed himself carrying an SEC sign around the Georgia Dome turf to Tide fans’ delight just after the win said, “Missouri’s a great team, but we just wanted to come out here and play our best game of the year. I think we did that.
“(As far as the playoffs), we’re going to take it one game at a time.”
Leading tackler A'Shawn Robinson (nine stops) said, “We just executed. We had a great game plan, and put it together.”
Added junior linebacker Reggie Ragland, “When we come out and do the thing we do, it’s hard to stop us. We all have something to prove.”
Perhaps, but none more than Blake Sims. And Saturday, he more than any other, did just that.