Alabama Football: How Kiffin and Sims have earned your respect
For the Alabama Crimson Tide faithful still waiting on quarterback Jacob Coker to supplant Blake Sims, you may want to shut it down until the offseason when the former is entrenched in a fresh competition with the likes of Cooper Bateman, David Cornwell and 5-star freshman Blake Barnett.
Sims should’ve garnered your respect prior to the tilt with the Florida Gators as he’s been nothing short of solid, savvy and effective.
But after his 445-yard, four-touchdown performance against a solid Gators defense, which included touchdown throws of 87 and 79 yards (for all the naysayers saying he wasn’t a threat in the vertical-passing game), Sims went out and took his respect from critics and pundits alike.
And when you mesh his talents with the outstanding coaching of offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin — who also drew the ire of fans and critics upon his hiring — it reads like a who’s who of “reclamation projects.”
But make no mistake about it; this is one talented pair.
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For fans of tactics and schemes, nothing beats the perfect meshing of an offensive philosophy with a particular set of skills of an individual player.
As it pertains to Kiffin, if you were to craft a player from scratch to be the lynchpin of his modernized version of the West Coast offense, such a player would have to be extremely accurate in the short-to-intermediate game (allowing the skill players the ample amount of time to generate run-after-catch yards).
That player would have to possess the ability to process and disseminate information rather quickly. He would have to have adequate enough athleticism to operate within the move-the-pocket game (boots, waggles and sprints).
And finally, he’d have to have the prerequisite arm strength to make explosive plays when possible.
Now, be honest; doesn’t that read like a description of Sims from what you’ve seen from him thus far in the season?
Agenda-driven people wondered, aloud, if Sims could drive the ball down the field. Undoubtedly, those people are now quiet as a church on Tuesdays.
Here we see Sims showing off his arm and football intelligence. With the way the coverage was situated, two-deep zone, he knew that receiver Amari Cooper would at the very least see one-on-one coverage.
Cooper actually ended up being wide open after pressing the corner action and bending it back to the post. Sims did a great job of re-setting his feet and getting the proper air under the ball so Cooper could simply run under the pass.
He threw it so perfectly that not only did the receiver not have to break his stride, he was also able to run under it and make an authentic Ken Griffey-like over-the-shoulder grab for a touchdown.
Thus far on the season Sims has completed 73.2 percent of his passes (71-of-97) for a whopping 11.25 average per completion; Kiffin is looking like a pure genius.
The best QB Kiffin has ever had as a head coach was during his tenure at the University of Southern California in Matt Barkley. The offensive success USC achieved was on the strength of accuracy in the short-to-intermediate area.
Barkley didn’t have the strongest of arms, but he excelled at throwing on the run and Kiffin often cut the field short for him.
Sims appears to have a stronger arm than the former Trojan, but when you couple his mobility with his short-area accuracy you can plainly see how the results are being derived.
Additionally, the touch he’s able to put on passes needs some attention.
This was as impressive of a throw as he made against the Gators. On this fade pass to Cooper, he’s able to get the throw off despite having possibly the best edge-player on the SEC (Dante Fowler) all in his kitchen (and nobody likes people in their kitchen!).
Cooper does a masterful job at setting up the route; he jabbed the corner inside, the great Vernon Hargreaves III, and gave Sims enough room to drop an absolute dime to the outside shoulder away from the corner.
This throw was a perfect mesh of fearlessness, timing, accuracy and touch. Kiffin has Sims looking similar to Barkley in some aspects.
When head coach Nick Saban hired Kiffin, many questioned if he was out of his mind. But the fact that hired him speaks volumes in my opinion.
Does anyone really think Saban would hire someone that was incapable of doing his respective job?
“You know, the guy is a really good coach now, all right,” Saban said in a press conference following the season-opening win against West Virginia (h/t to Andrew Gribble of AL.com).
“Y’all need to fess up to that. And most places that don’t like him is because he left and they were mad because he left. They weren’t mad about anything he did while he was there. Just do a little research on that.”
While Saban may be bloviating just a tad bit in that quote, there’s certainly some truth to it.
But now both Sims and Kiffin are being looked at in a whole new light. And both are reflecting quite well on the great University of Alabama.
There are very few things quite as satisfying than watching people prove others wrong…especially when they are dispelling preconceived thoughts and notions.
Roll Tide, Kiffin and Sims.