Blake Sims acquitted himself well in his first start as Alabama’s quarterback in a 33-23 victory against West Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on Saturday at the Georgia Dome.
Sims, a senior from Gainesville, completed 24 of 33 passes for 250 yards and one interception. He offered West Virginia a different challenge with his ability to run, totaling 42 yards and escaping several would-be sacks.
“(Coach Nick Saban) told me to play with composure,” Sims said. “I told him when it comes time, I’ll be ready.”
Sims wasn’t confirmed as the starter until earlier this week after battling Jake Coker for the job.
Sims was inconsistent in the first half with some of his calls and reads. Saban said he considered putting Coker in the second quarter. But Sims settled down and Coker remained on the sideline.
Sims showed a powerful arm on most throws and wasn hurt by a few drops, including a potential touchdown catch by an open Christion Jones late in the third quarter
“I couldn’t be more proud of that guy (Sims),” offensive lineman Austin Shepard said. “He pretty much just gets in the huddle and he is ready to go. I kept telling him no matter what happens, we got your back.”
Sims’ only mistake came when he failed to notice cornerback Daryl Worley on first down at the 25-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Worley intercepted the pass, but Alabama’s defense forced West Virginia to punt with no damage done.
“I thought he did a good job of running their offense and getting the ball to a bunch of guys that are going to be playing ball for a long, long time,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said.
New wrinkle: Sims and the offense were helped by a new wrinkle: the no-huddle offense put in by offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.
“We’ve never done that, ever, here,” Shepard said.
The goal was to wear them down.
“We were trying to punish them,” Shepard said. “Every chance we got, drive them into the ground and get in their head. They’ll start thinking about it and finally wear down.”
Saban said they will use the no-huddle as long as it benefits the players. He credited it as the reason that Sims improved after having some issues formations in the first half.
“We have the capabilities of doing it and we’ll consider doing it in the future,” he said.
Unhappy with the defense: Saban wasn’t happy with the inconsistency of Alabama’s defense, which didn’t take control of the game until the fourth quarter when it limited West Virginia to 36 yards. The Mountaineers totaled 393 in the game.
Saban said he thought there was a lack of leadership with two new starters at linebacker and a lack of coordination between the linebackers and secondary with coverages.
But the defense responded early in the fourth quarter with two critical stops on first and goal at the 5-yard line and the Tide leading by 10.
“These are all things we can learn from,” Saban said.