It would have been easy for Alabama senior quarterback Blake Sims to seek greener pastures.
Sims, a native of Gainesville, Ga., was stuck behind A.J. McCarron for most of his career and watched several other backup quarterbacks transfer for a chance to play.
Sims stuck it out.
Even when junior Jake Coker, a Mobile, Ala., native, transferred from Florida State and was anointed by many as McCarron’s heir apparent, Sims didn’t bail on the Crimson Tide.
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“It was a lot of hard work and dedication, making a lot of sacrifices,” Sims said. “Pretty much, I really just wanted to let my team know that I’m willing to do whatever I have to do, and hopefully they’re happy with the way we’re playing with each other.”
It’s hard to argue with Sims’ success, and his teammates certainly aren’t complaining.
Sims has completed 207 of 328 passes, better than 63 percent, for 2,988 yards with 24 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.
His patience was rewarded, but so was Alabama’s as Sims has led the Tide into the SEC Championship Game against Missouri at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Georgia Dome.
“He’s a very efficient quarterback — efficiency rating is very, very high,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “Obviously, they do a great job of coaching him. Here is a guy that is an older guy, not a redshirt freshman or sophomore. … He’s also a very good athlete. He can extend plays. He can do things with his feet which cause a lot of problems also — very, very impressive player.”
Sims’ athleticism is among the keys to Alabama’s remarkable success preventing sacks this season.
The Tide has allowed only eight sacks and never more than two in a game.
“First of all, the offensive line has done a good job,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “Secondly, Blake is very athletic. At times, he avoids pressure. Third, we move the pocket effectively, where it makes it a little more difficult to zero in on the quarterback. So, I would say a combination of those three things is probably the reason.”
The strength of the Tigers’ defense is its pass rush, led by defensive ends Markus Golden and Shane Ray, but Sims’ efficiency might limit MU’s effectiveness.
“We always want to get pressure,” Pinkel said. “We know that’s a great equalizer with any quarterback, teams that throw the ball well. The challenge is, can you do it? … That’s going to be interesting to see who wins that battle as the game goes on.”
Pinkel also lauded Sims’ resiliency, which he demonstrated by rebounding from three early interceptions in a 55-44 win against Auburn last week. He finished 20 of 27 for 312 yards with four touchdowns in the SEC West-clinching victory.
“I was very impressed with him in that game when he threw a couple interceptions then he came back right away and made some great plays and played well,” Pinkel said. “That says an awful lot about him.”