Sims Hot Hand Cools Off Missouri

Quarterback Blake Sims stayed around for a final year of eligibility. He began the year with a horde of skeptics ready to scrutinize every decision. Even the mass of preseason doubters had to give the fifth-year senior a standing ovation for the sensational performance in the SEC Championship Game held in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Saturday.

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Alabama (12-1, 7-1, No. 1) soundly defeated Missouri (10-3, 7-1) 42-13 to capture the 2014 league title. The undervalued Blake Sims was named the game’s MVP.

Sims set an SEC Championship Game record for pass completion percentage. Sims was successful on 23 of 27 attempts for an 85.2 per cent mark. Nine consecutive completions tied the record set by a pair of Florida quarterbacks, Shane Matthews (1992) and Danny Wuerffel (1995). Seven straight completions capped the evening.

Nick Saban emphasized the competitive character of the team in the post-game press conference. The classic example was the Gainesville, Ga., native donning No. 6 for the Tide. He personifies the perseverance and poise so admired by his relentless head coach. Sims had a long arduous journey from the bottom of the depth chart as a scout team regular to becoming the starting quarterback of a team on the precipice of competing for a national championship.

Fairy tale endings are not that good.

“I don't know that I've ever seen a player go through any more than Blake went through for four years as a player, and never once did he ever not do whatever he needed to do to help the team,” said Saban. “He played on a scout team so many times when we'd play against a zone read quarterback, when he was the backup quarterback, never complained about it. And I've never seen a guy work so hard from last spring when he had an opportunity to be the quarterback, through the summer, and to work in fall camp and get the confidence of his players and execute well and just learn how to take what the defense gives. He has done a phenomenal job for us all year long.”

Sims was committed to the cause of developing as a player and the devotion was acknowledged. “It really -- as a coach, you love to see guys that go through what he's gone through, work so hard, always persevered, and then have success,” said Saban, a winner of three SEC Championship Games as the head coach of Alabama. “This is a phenomenal success that he's had with the season, but it's a credit to his character and his work ethic.”

The bitter taste of losing a state high school championship in the Georgia Dome with Sims at the helm is now supplanted with the sweet savor of winning an SEC ring in the same venue. Nick Saban referred to the 1960’s movie “Cool Hand Luke” in the press conference. Sim’s demeanor resembles the suave leading character in the film. Actor Paul Newman playing the part of Luke replied in the signature scene, “Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand,” after bluffing his way to a winning poker hand.

Although the 22-year old Sims was unfamiliar with the drama of yesteryear, he unwittingly set up those interested observers of the spring and fall camp to believe he lacked the talent to play the part of an Alabama quarterback. The 21st century gridiron portrayal of the crafty screen film character proved to have the winning hand not only on the field but with teammates. Their confidence never wavered as the cards were revealed in practice. They followed Sims to an SEC title with the hopes of playing for all the chips in the National Championship.

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