Final WVU Thoughts, Sims Edition

There’s nothing like a good quarterback battle to ignite a fan base.  Alabama fans are no different.

Despite a stat line that read 24 of 33 passing (72.7%) for 250 yards with no touchdowns and one interception, half of the Tide fan base (at least) is hopping mad because they believe head coach Nick Saban has cast his lot with the wrong guy.  The right guy, obviously in their opinion, is Florida State transfer Jake Coker.  And this half of the fan base is incensed that Coker played no meaningful snaps against the Mountaineers in the Georgia Dome.

As usual, about half of the Alabama fan base is insane.

As I read fan comments last night, I actually felt sorry for the families of these lunatic fans and they actually made me feel a little better about myself.  That’s how nuts some of us are.

So this Monday following the first game of the season, let’s all take a deep breath and take a step back from the ledge.  Let’s gather ourselves and gain a bit of perspective.

First off, Saban, the head coach of our football team and the same coach that won four BCS national titles, felt comfortable enough with Blake Sims to name him the starting quarterback.  Yes, Sims had a circuitous route to the throne and, yes, Sims played bad in the last A-Day game, but Saban and his new offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin, thought Sims did the best throughout training camp and gave the Tide the best chance to win.  

It’s pretty simple logic, but I think I’ll leave the starting quarterback spot up to these qualified coaches.  (At least for now.  As a blogger, I reserve the right to change my mind.)  These same coaches also determined which quarterback ran out onto the field at the Dome for each offensive series.  Sims was chosen for every meaningful drive.

For most sane Alabama fans, this makes sense.  To the average fan (and, obviously, not those with super fan insights despite having never played college football or coached the sport) it was apparent that the team was moving the ball – both on the ground and in the air.  Yes, Sims didn’t throw often down field.  Yes, his passes were of the safer variety.  But that’s ok with me!  For a first time starter, it kind of makes sense to ease him into the season and not start chucking the ball all over the place.  I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but that seems reasonable.  He also seemed comfortable running the offense and seemed to maintain his poise.  Saban acknowledged that this wasn’t always the case and indicated that Sims was almost pulled in the second quarter.  See!  This again proves that the four-time title winner was actually still coaching!  Amazing, isn’t it?

The problem, you see was the Tide defense and the Tide kickoff coverage unit.  We didn’t have a spare possession for Coker to play so that one-half of the Tide fan base would be at least a little appeased.  No, we needed every possession and Sims was moving the team.  That’s not to say that every pass was on the money or that every play was called correctly or that all was perfect.  No, things weren’t perfect, but they never are for first-time starters.  But he played well and he played with poise.  He did complete a high percent of his passes and he had only one turnover, although it was a bad one.  He also avoided the rush all night and was also able to use his legs to run for a few yards.  Don’t forget these last couple of comments, especially when comparing Sims to AJ McCarron.  Our last quarterback was not mobile and didn’t like to get hit (who does?).  Sims’ athleticism helped him escape trouble frequently and I can guarantee you that opposing defenses will have to scheme for his running ability.  I can also tell you that there were times against WVU when the threat of his running ability created open receivers.  

To summarize, you are nuts if you think Sims didn’t play well.  

Does that mean we can win a title with him?  I really don’t think so.  I don’t think he’s as polished of a passer as we need in the long run.  I have doubts about winning a shoot out with him.  Now that doesn’t mean he’s going to play poorly, it’s just saying his upside this season isn’t as high as it probably should be.

But that also doesn’t mean we could win with Coker.  For whatever reason, Coker was beaten out and the WVU game didn’t follow the script that I’m sure Saban and Kiffin wanted so that Coker could play more.  That doesn’t mean that he won’t play the next couple of weeks.  He may play and he may play a lot.  But the bottom line is Sims helped us through a tough game against a tougher than expected opponent and that’s more than Coker can say at this moment.

Our real concern, however, lies on the other side of the ball.  Yes, we missed C.J. Mosley and, yes, we even missed Trey DePriest.  We also still miss Dre Kirkpatrick, Kareem Jackson and Dee Milliner.  We don’t have a lock-down corner right now and that is very concerning.  My feeling is that our defensive line and linebackers will play better than they did against WVU.  I’m not sure about the corners.  We are waiting on Eddie Jackson’s return, but I’m not counting on much from him given that he’s recovering from knee surgery.  Next up would be Tony Brown.  Who knows?  Maybe the freshman is ready to ball.  Something tells me he’ll get his chance.