Unheralded Sims Leads 'Bama To Playoff

Blake Sims entered the season as an unknown, but has led the Crimson Tide to a playoff berth and the country's top ranking.

Like Ohio State, Alabama entered the 2014 season breaking in a new quarterback. While the Buckeyes have been forced to repeat that process with Cardale Jones stepping in late in the season, Blake Sims now has a full season under his belt as the Crimson Tide quarterback.

The Alabama senior entered the season with plenty of question marks following a lackluster spring, but beat out Florida State transfer Jake Coker and led the Tide to a 12-1 season.

“The first game, I was just trying to get the feel of the first college game,” Sims said. “I tried to make some plays to show that Coach Saban made the right decision. I wanted to let them know I could be a great leader for this team. Each game, I tried to get better each week and pick Coach Saban’s mind, and see what he sees.”

Sims did get better as the season went along, posting two of his highest quarterback ratings of the season in the team’s final two games. The quarterback finished the year with 3,250 passing yards, the 24th best mark in the nation, with 26 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. His season-long quarterback rating of 161.92 is the seventh-best in the country.

Not bad for a player that many expected to be on the bench this season.

“It’s been fantastic watching Blake,” running back T.J. Yeldon said. “Everybody criticized him and how he wasn’t going to be able to start or be a good quarterback. He took that as motivation to keep him going and he turned out to be one of the leaders on the team. He always gets us going and gets the offense going. He does a great job doing that.”

New Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin received much of the credit for the growth of Sims, a player who entered the year with just 244 passing yards on 39 attempts. The coordinator, however, credited the fifth-year senior’s work ethic and demeanor for the progress he has made this season.

“I think Blake has had a great story so far this year and it's been because of the way he's played and worked,” Kiffin said. “From the first day we got here there were a lot of questions about Blake, how he would perform, whether he was even a quarterback.

“Brought in a transfer that the assumption was by a lot of people that the transfer, Jake, would be the starting quarterback. And never once did Blake bring that up. Never once did he question that. All he did was go to work.”

Now, Sims must go to work against Ohio State. The Buckeyes have held opposing passers to the fifth lowest passer rating in the country this season and will be the second-best defense in that regard that Sims has ever faced, trailing only LSU. The Tigers allowed Sims to complete just 44.4 percent of his passes for 209 yards and his lowest passer rating of the season at 98.1. The Tide needed overtime to win that game in Baton Rouge.

“This is a very, very good defense,” Kiffin said of Ohio State. “People aren’t really moving the ball against these guys very much at all.”

On Thursday, Sims will be the one tasked with moving the ball on the Buckeyes.

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