The quarterback is the most scrutinized player on the football field.
In Thursday’s Sugar Bowl between Alabama and Ohio State, the second semifinal of the inaugural College Football Playoffs, we’re going to see 2 quarterbacks at 2 different stages of their careers.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide’s Blake Sims is a senior. This is only his first season as the Alabama starter, but he’s been in Nick Saban’s system for a few years now and has become a team leader.
Cardale Jones started the season as the 3rd-stringer for 4th-ranked Ohio State. Injuries have thrust the sophomore into the lineup and Thursday night will be his 2nd career start.
Here’s the rundown on Sims and Jones:
The Blake Sims Scouting Report
Season Stats Passing: 230-for-355 (64.8%); 3,250 yards; 26 TDs; 7 INTs; 161.9 rating; 10 sack
Rushing: 73 carries, 321 yards, 6 TDs
Strengths & Weaknesses
Strengths: Strong, accurate arm; Mobility and speed; Amari Cooper; Battle-tested
Weaknesses: Too reliant on Cooper
During spring practice, Sims was in a battle for the starting QB job with Jake Coker, a transfer from Florida State who was Jameis Winston’s backup. Many believed it was Coker’s job to lose. But in reality, Sims outplayed Coker from the onset, getting the starting nod.
Sims failed to throw touchdowns in the season-opening win vs. West Virginia and during the Tide’s only loss of the year – a setback in October to then-No. 11 Ole Miss. Other than that, he was zoned in. Sims threw for a season-high 475 yards vs. Florida, lifted the Tide after a near-benching to beat Auburn and won MVP honors in the SEC Championship Game.
The Cardale Jones Scouting Report
Season Stats Passing: 22-for-34 (64.7%); 375 yards; 5 TDs; 0 INTs; 205.9 rating; 1 sack taken
Rushing: 34 carries, 215 yards, 0 TDs
Strengths & Weaknesses
Strengths: Size; Strong arm; Athletic; No pressure on him
Weaknesses: Inexperience; Lack of consistent receiving options
Jones is not supposed to be playing in this game. He began the season as the 3rd-stringer. An injury to supposed starter Braxton Miller opened the door for J.T. Barrett, who had a fantastic season. Well, Barrett got hurt, too. So it’s Jones’ turn.
He played in a few games earlier in the season, but made his first career start in the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin. Jones played like a 4-year starter, completing 12 of 17 passes for 257 yards and 3 touchdowns in the 59-0 drubbing of the Badgers.
Sims has started only 1 season, but was one of the top QBs in the nation. In Cooper, has the best receiver in the land and arguably the top offensive line and offensive coordinator in Lane Kiffin. Sims just seems to stay calm and make plays when he needs to.
No doubt Jones has a bright future. The man is built like a tight end but has a cannon for an arm and some serious running skills. Urban Meyer is going to make him a stud. Unfortunately, Jones is a little green and doesn’t have the weapons in Columbus just yet.
It’s too early to tell on Jones, so Sims gets our nod as the better quarterback. But Sims has given us no reason not to choose him anyway. There weren’t many QBs better than him this season.