The Alabama Crimson Tide are still without a starting quarterback, waiting on Jacob Coker to enroll this summer before kicking off the final round of competition entering fall camp. For Blake Sims, one of the three players with a realistic shot at the job, the summer has to be about slowing the game down and using every opportunity to show how his unique skills should put him over the top.
In the spring game, which saw Sims go 13-for-30 with two interceptions, the Tide put the governor on the quarterback's ability to create space and opportunity. As T.J. Yeldon noted after the game, the Tide utilized only 10 percent of the offense during the game. That meant no designed runs, not many run-pass options and very few sprint outs that would allow the 6'0" senior to show off his skills.
For Sims, who was ahead of redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman for most of spring, summer will be about getting better at some of the traditional elements of the quarterback job. Most notably, slowing the game down so that he can make the right decisions. The skills are there for the senior, however, his indecision led to mistakes and as the quarterback of the machine in Tuscaloosa, mistakes get people sent to the bench.
That means summer has to be spent growing his confidence and turning the in-play thought process into instincts. Pre-snap reads and post-snap assessments have to led to definitive decisions for Sims. No double-clutching. No eyeballing receivers to wait for them to come open.
And, of course, no holding the ball waiting to create a coverage sack.
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The last element will be changed as Sims gets closer to game action. His ability to move, both in and out of the pocket, are an asset hidden from view during the limited spring game. As Alabama pushes through summer and into fall, Sims' unique skills have to show head coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin that the senior is the best option.
Beating out Jacob Coker is not going to be easy for Sims. As he showed in the spring game, when the bullets were almost live he balked in the spotlight. To stay in the running and push for the job he has to slow down the game and trust the decisions that he makes after the snap. That means throwing before his receivers come open.
It isn't an easy skill to master and Saturday's spring game showed Sims has a long way to go. However, the door for the Alabama quarterback job is still wide open and Sims has time to prove he belongs under center. If he can improve his decision-making and show that his athleticism is an asset, he has a shot to win that job.