Sims leads No. 3 Alabama past Southern Miss, 52-12
- JOHN ZENOR (AP Sports Writer)
September 13, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Blake Sims passed, ran and confidently
staked his claim as the leader of No. 3 Alabama's offense.
Amari Cooper breaks free vs Southern Mississippi, Saturday,
September 13, 2014, at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL.
Photo Credit - Vasha Hunt/al.com
Sims threw for two touchdowns and rushed for a third in three
quarters and emerged as the Crimson Tide's undisputed starting
quarterback - for now, at least - in a 52-12 victory over Southern
Miss on Saturday night.
"I didn't feel real comfortable with the way the game was going,
and it just didn't feel right to make a change," Alabama coach Nick
Saban said. "Do we want to continue to play both quarterbacks and
try to develop both guys? Absolutely."
"Jake (Coker) needs to play and he needs to develop confidence. I
think we're going to have to make a decision on a week-to-week basis
on what gives us the best opportunity to win. Right now, Blake
probably is a little more confident. If that remains that way,
he's probably going to start the game. He's started every game
Sims was 12-of-17 passing for 168 yards for the Crimson Tide (3-0)
ahead of the team's Southeastern Conference opener against Florida.
Coker didn't come in until late in the third quarter against the
Golden Eagles (1-2), who have lost 25 of their last 27 games.
"Everybody knows their time to step up because you get that
feeling," Sims said. "It doesn't matter if you're a freshman,
sophomore, junior or senior, if you've got to step up, you step
up at the time."
Most of Sims' completions went to the nation's leading receiver,
Amari Cooper. Cooper had eight catches for 135 yards and a
touchdown to tie DJ Hall's school record of five consecutive
100-yard games set in 2006. Kenyan Drake scored three touchdowns
and produced 59 yards on nine rushes.
Sims also ran five times for 46 yards, including a 4-yard
touchdown. Coker did open by leading Alabama on a 99-yard
"Obviously, Blake is our starting quarterback right now," Cooper
said. "He's playing more than Coker's playing, and he's playing
well. Both of them are playing well."
Nick Mullens completed 19 of 35 passes for 207 yards to lead
Corey Acosta had field goals of 33, 43, 37 and 30 yards to
account for all the points by Southern Miss.
Alabama outgained the Golden Eagles 547-263 in total yards,
allowing just 56 rushing yards. The Tide ran for 333 yards, led
by Derrick Henry's 11 carries for 73 yards.
"It's hard to run against them," Southern Miss coach Todd Monken
said. "They've got big guys up front. It's hard to push those guys
Cooper accounted for 108 of Sims' 123 passing yards in the first
half. He moved past Ozzie Newsome into the Tide's No. 3 spot for
career receiving yards.
Coker got into the game with 2:10 left in the third quarter with
Alabama at the 1. He completed all three of his attempts for 36
yards before Drake scampered 29 yards for his third touchdown and
a 42-9 lead.
Coker finished 5-of-7 passing for 46 yards. His third-down sack
forced Alabama to settle for a 30-yard Adam Griffith field goal.
The Florida State transfer and Sims had battled through preseason
camp and split time in a rout of Florida Atlantic. Sims played all
but the final minutes of the opening win against West Virginia and
didn't leave this one until it was well in hand either.
Southern Miss scored field goals on its first and last drive of
the opening half, but managed just 4 yards in the second quarter.
Two of Acosta's kicks were set up by Alabama mistakes.
Tyler Sarrazin's punt bounced off Alabama's Tyren Jones, giving
the Golden Eagles the ball at the 29.
They couldn't get anywhere but Acosta got them three points, and
he added the 37-yarder in the third quarter on a drive kept alive
by safety Nick Perry's targeting flag on a third-down incompletion.
Perry will miss the first half of the Florida game. He posted an
apology to Alabama fans on his Twitter page before the quarter
was done, saying that "My boys will take care of business."
"I don't question the call that was made against Nick Perry,"
Saban said. "I don't think he did it intentionally but was it
helmet-to-helmet? It probably was. I was standing right in front