Alabama has its preliminary winner in the quarterback competition entering Saturday's A-Day game at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Whether fifth-year senior Blake Sims still holds the job when the Crimson Tide open against West Virginia at the Chick-fil-A Classic has yet to be determined. The 6-foot, 208-pounder began spring practice with the most seniority among Alabama's quarterback hopefuls, and he has not disappointed.
"We're pleased with Blake," coach Nick Saban said in a news conference Saturday after the Tide conducted their second scrimmage. "All the other guys have their good days and bad days. They all need to work on their consistency."
Alabama held its 13th spring practice Tuesday and will work out again Thursday before culminating with A-Day.
Sims has completed 40 of 62 passes for 515 yards and five touchdowns in Alabama's two scrimmages. He was labeled a "work in progress" last month by Saban as he tried to adjust to the pro-style system of new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, but Saban has used "taken some command" when describing Sims after each of the scrimmages.
Last Saturday, Sims completed 24 of 39 passes for 288 yards with three scores.
"There were several occasions where our front guys couldn't get him tagged, and he ended up scrambling and making plays," Saban said. "That happened three or four times, and he's doing a better job in the pocket. He's been accurate, and his consistency has been good."
Sims had his best showing last season against Georgia State, completing 14 of 18 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown, but the Panthers were easily the worst team on the Crimson Tide's schedule. In his other appearances, he completed just 4 of 11 passes for 37 yards.
Improving footwork and accuracy have been the biggest strides Sims believes he has made this spring, with reading defenses the biggest challenge in the months ahead. One of the tougher adjustments for Sims has been taking snaps under center, but he has seemed to take everything in stride in the quest to replace AJ McCarron.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Sims told reporters earlier this month. "I'm having fun out there, and I think everybody is smiling and having fun."
Redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman has taken the most second-team repetitions behind Sims, with redshirt sophomore Alec Morris, redshirt freshman Parker McLeod and early enrollee David Cornwell trailing those two.
Though Sims is tops for now, everything could change this summer when Florida State transfer Jacob Coker joins the mix. Sims has visited with Coker, who will have two years of eligibility remaining.
"I'm ready for him to get here and make Bama that much better," Sims said.
West Virginia announced that its opener with Alabama on Aug. 30 will be televised by ABC with a 3:30 EDT kickoff. ... Saban said that sophomore lineman Grant Hill is backing up Ryan Kelly at center and Austin Shepherd at right tackle and could play a little at both positions this season. ... Junior linebacker Dillon Lee has worked outside but also has practiced inside with Reuben Foster nursing a neck stinger.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.