Walking into Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday, I didn't expect Blake Sims to throw for 454 yards. His release was quick, his decisions were stout and aggressive, and his swagger mimicked that of quarterbacks John Parker Wilson, McCarron, and McElroy before him. Having Amari Cooper helps, but Sims's play is the reason Alabama looked to me -- despite all of the turnovers -- like the best team in the country.
Blake Sims national rankings: No. 4 in comp % - 73.2 No. 3 in yards per attempt - 11.2 No. 4 in QB rating - 190.77 No. 17 in yards - 1091— Marquavius Burnett (@Marq_Burnett) September 21, 2014
I was pretty excited to have the chance to look down on Lane Kiffin and Nick Saban's product for the 2014-15 season against Florida, and boy was I impressed.
Blake Sims came into the game unfazed and untested. This was his first SEC start and his first SEC challenge. And with Vernon Hargreaves III and Dante Fowler Jr. on the other side, a passing montage for Sims was the least of my expectations.
Kiffin opened up the Tide with a bomb to Kenyan Drake on the first play. Would Jim McElwain have done that? I doubt it. Would Doug Nussmeier have done it? Again, I doubt it. It was a brilliant play call, and that's why Kiffin was hired, to do just that.
The next drive featured Amari Cooper. And so did the next, and so did the next. Cooper proved Saturday why he is the best wide receiver in the country. Going up against the aforementioned Hargreaves, Cooper ran circles around him, caught passes over him, and virtually obliterated him from the opening kickoff, propelling Cooper into the Heisman talk with 201 yards and three touchdowns on 10 catches -- an amazing performance.
Saban: When teams try to play man-to-man against Coop, it's a real weapon that we have to take advantage of.— Aaron Suttles (@AaronSuttles) September 20, 2014
So why am I so enthralled with Alabama after they gave the Gators numerous opportunities to hang around? Because at times, everything clicked. I saw Alabama cornerback Tony Brown make huge plays. I saw Landon Collins make another huge interception. I saw Derrick Henry once again run the ball like we all expect him to, breaking tackles and breaking down defenses with his shifty physique. And as everyone saw, Alabama's quarterback and No. 1 wide receiver look to be in midseason form.
Next week for the Tide? Ole Miss. Another great defensive test, the first SEC away game that could challenge Blake Sims. But what's to say it could be a challenge? Sims is a gamer, a guy that will step up under the lights. And, oh yeah, he has No. 9 at receiver, so he, along with Tide fans across the country, shouldn't worry. Alabama is right where it needs to be.