DeAndrew White

Report: Tide WR Cam Sims tore ACL at practice Saturday

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It’s not been a good couple of days for Alabama football off the field, what with a pair of arrests involving player with previous legal issues.  Now, that storm cloud has drifted into the on-field arena as well.

Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, Matt Zenitz of al.com is reporting that Cam Sims sustained some type of a torn ACL during a spring practice session Saturday.  Given the timing of the injury, Sims could conceivably return at some time around the midway point of the 2015 season, if not slightly sooner.  Or, the true sophomore could take a redshirt.

While the football program has not yet addressed the player’s health and his status for the upcoming season, Sims intimated on Twitter that he has some type of significant issue he needs to overcome.

And, based on one of his retweets, it is indeed an ACL issue he’ll be forced to overcome.

As noted by Zenitz, Sims was being looked upon as a player who could potentially help replace the production lost by the departures of the Tide’s top three receivers.  In 2014, the departed ones, Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White and Christion Jones, combined for 183 receptions for 2,495 yards and 21 touchdowns, although Cooper was responsible for roughly two-thirds of that production.

Sims, a four-star member of UA’s 2014 recruiting class, caught seven passes for 62 yards and a touchdown as a true freshman.

Ohio State downs Alabama, will meet Oregon for national title

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Cardale Jones, welcome to college football history. Making just his second career start, the man they call 12 Gauge shot No. 4 Ohio State out of a 15-point deficit into a 42-35 Sugar Bowl victory over No. 1 Alabama on Thursday night.

The Buckeyes will meet No. 2 Oregon, 59-20 winners over No. 3 Florida State earlier today, in the inaugural College Football Playoff championship next Monday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Defying the keyboard warriors (myself included) determined to declare the game over at 21-6, Ohio State came roaring back. The Buckeyes closed the first half with two straight touchdowns and opened the second half in the exact same fashion. Jones marched the Buckeyes 75 yards in six plays, connecting with Devin Smith for his customary deep touchdown catch (this time 47 yards) to give Ohio State a 27-21 lead, and then defensive lineman Steve Miller stepped in front of a Blake Sims pass for a 41-yard pick-six to push the lead to 34-21 at the 3:21 mark of the third quarter.

Needing a response badly, Alabama returned to what worked back when it was scoring points in the first quarter: handing the ball to Derrick Henry. The sophomore rumbled for a 52-yard catch-and-run, setting Sims up for a five-yard scoring dash to pull the Tide within six with 1:01 to play in the third quarter.

Alabama then had a golden opportunity to take back the lead with 10 minutes remaining, taking over at the Ohio State 23-yard line after just a 21-yard punt by Cameron Johnston. But Sims was intercepted on the first play of the possession, as Vonn Bell snagged a pass intended for tight end O.J. Howard near the Ohio State goal line.

Ohio State went three-and-out, its third straight, and returned the ball to Alabama in good field position, but the Tide’s third-down issues arose again as Sims was stuffed for a loss of three yards on a third-and-six. J.K. Scott, arguably Alabama’s best player on the night, pinned Ohio State at the five – its fourth straight starting position inside its own 10, but a banged-up Crimson Tide could not stop the Ohio State running game. Playing without two linebackers and with safety Landon Collins playing on an injured shoulder, Alabama surrendered a first down on three straight runs – its only first down allowed sine the middle of the third quarter – and then its longest play of the season, an 85-yard dash to pay dirt by Elliott. Jones hit Thomas for a two-point conversion to give Ohio State a 42-28 lead with 3:24 to play.

Alabama moved 65 yards in just 86 seconds, highlighted by a 52-yard strike from Sims to DeAndrew White and Amari Cooper‘s second touchdown grab of the night, to pull within 42-35 with just under two minutes remaining, but Ohio State recovered the onside kick. The Buckeyes gave the Tide another shot, though, using only 18 seconds after accepting the ball near midfield, which gave Alabama the ball at its own 18 with 1:33 to go.

However, Sims’ Hail Mary was intercepted on the final play of the game, and Ohio State advanced to its first title game since the 2007 season.

Jones completed 18-of-35 passes for 243 yards with a touchdown and an interception and rushed 17 times for 43 yards, while Elliott set a Sugar Bowl record with 20 carries for 230 yards and two touchdowns. Ohio State rushed for 281 yards and 6.7 yards per carry against a defense that came in ranking first in FBS in rushing defense and second in yards per carry. Smith caught two passes for 87 yards and a touchdown, moving Ohio State to 21-0 all-time when he catches a touchdown pass.

For Alabama, questions will abound about why Henry didn’t get the ball more. The sophomore rushed 13 times for 95 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes for 54 yards. Sims completed 22-of-36 passes for 237 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, with Cooper hauling in nine receptions for 71 yards and both scores.

Ohio State out-gained Alabama 537-407 and held enormous advantages on the ground, out-rushing the Tide 281-170, and on third down, converting 10-of-18 chances compared to Alabama’s 2-of-13. Ohio State also won the turnover battle, 3-2.

First-half domination of Mizzou leaves Bama 30 minutes from SEC title

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If Alabama’s defense plays in the second half the way it did in the first, you can go ahead and stick a fork in the game; it’s done.

Through two quarters of play in the 2014 SEC championship game, ‘Bama has limited Missouri’s offense to just 108 total yards in taking a 21-3 lead into the halftime locker room.  Mizzou was limited to just three first downs, the first of which didn’t come until late in the first quarter on its third possession, and didn’t cross midfield until there were less than 10 minutes left in the second quarter.

58 of the Tigers’ yards came on a pair pass plays in which quarterback Maty Mauk was flushed out of the pocket.  The running game was nonexistent as the Tide held the Tigers to 21 yards on 10 carries.

The Tide, meanwhile, rolled to 248 yards of offense against a very good Tiger defense.  A one-yard T.J. Yeldon touchdown run on the game’s opening possession put UA up early, a lead that they then extended on a 58-yard touchdown pass from Blake Sims to DeAndrew White early in the second quarter.  Another Yeldon run late in the second quarter, this one from two yards out, pushed the lead to 21-3.

Sims was nearly flawless in the passing game the first 30 minutes, completing 15-of-17 passes 160 yards and the touchdown.  The first-year starter wasn’t perfect, though, as he fumbled twice in  a span of three plays.  Fortunately for all UA parties involved, both of those fumbles were recovered by the Tide.

All-American Amari Cooper caught 10 first-half passes, just two shy of breaking Florida wide receiver Reidel Anthony‘s SEC championship game record of 11 set in 1996.  Those 10 receptions, though, went for just 61 yards as the passes to the receiver essentially served as extended handoffs.  Cooper did set a first-half record: single-season receptions.  The junior now has 113 catches in 2014, breaking the mark of 112 by Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews last season.

Adding further insult to scoreboard injury, Mizzou will be without one of the best defensive ends in the country for the remainder of the game.  With 11:48 remaining in the second quarter, Shane Ray was — correctly, mind you — called for targeting on a hit to Sims’s chin well after he connected with White on the long touchdown pass.  Ray came into the game tied for fourth in the country in sacks (13.5) and tied for third in tackles for loss (20.5).

Winnin’ with Mr. Cooper: Bama rolls Auburn, averts SEC playoff disaster

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For the better part of three quarters in Tuscaloosa Saturday night, it appeared the SEC was very likely on the verge of being shut out of a spot in the College Football Playoff.  And then Amari Cooper happened.

In yet another instant Iron Bowl classic, Cooper fueled a furious second-half comeback that pushed top-ranked Alabama to a 55-44 win over No. 15 Auburn in a game that was the highest-scoring in the history of the storied rivalry.  The 99 points scored easily surpassed the previous high of 75 in 1969, while the Tide’s 55 points tied the most points by one team in the series (Alabama, 55-0 in 1948).

Early in the third quarter, Auburn had actually stretched its lead to 33-21.  A 34-3 run to close out the game, however, set the postseason table for the Tide.

Alabama had already clinched the SEC West title before taking the field thanks to Mississippi State’s Egg Bowl loss to Ole Miss; the win ensured there would be no co-champions, as well as kept its CFP hopes very much alive.

Were it not for Cooper, however, the Tide would’ve been licking their wounds over a loss that could very well have fatally wounded any shot at a playoff spot.

Trailing 33-21 midway through the third quarter, Alabama’s All-American wide receiver got behind Auburn’s secondary for a pair of scores totaling 114 yards to cut the lead to 36-34.  The mere threat of Cooper helped lead to a Blake Sims‘ 11-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter that, with the two-point conversion, gave the Tide a 42-36 lead, its first since late in the first half.

Cooper finished the game with 13 receptions for 224 yards and three touchdowns, a performance that could very well have sealed a trip to New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.  The yardage, incidentally, set an Iron Bowl record, and was one yard shy of his school record set Oct. 25 of this year against Tennessee.

Blake Sims ‘ fourth touchdown pass of the game, this one to DeAndrew White, with 8:05 remaining in the fourth quarter pushed it to a two-score game.  In addition to the four touchdown passes, Sims completed just over 70 percent of his 27 attempts for 312 yards.  He did, though, become the first Nick Saban quarterback to throw three interceptions in a single game.

The Tide’s defense also deserves plaudits, as does whoever it was that made the halftime adjustments.  After getting gashed for 383 yards and 26 points in the first half, the Tigers’ high-powered offense was limited to 182 and 10 in the second half before AU’s final drive with the game in hand.  They also held on a critical fourth down late in the game, with Auburn inside the ‘Bama 15-yard line and on the verge of pulling to within five points with a touchdown.

On the ensuing possession, a pair of Derrick Henry runs — one for 49 yards, the other a 25-yard touchdown jaunt with 3:46 left on the clock — proved to be the dagger.

The Tide now turns their attention to the SEC championship game next Saturday night against Missouri.  A win there would ensure ‘Bama a spot in the playoff — something that looked less than certain just a couple of hours ago.

No. 5 Alabama escapes Death Valley with life in playoff chase

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Alabama and LSU renewed their rivalry the only way they know how it seems. The two teams played a defensive battle and had to go to overtime to settle the score. In the overtime, it was No. 5 Alabama (8-1, 5-1 SEC) celebrating a big win over No. 16 LSU (7-3, 3-3 SEC), 20-13. The win helps keep Alabama in the playoff hunt, and this was a very good day to pick up that win on the road.

With Auburn going down at home to an unranked Texas A&M, Alabama is the likely top candidate to slide into the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings when the next ranking is released Tuesday night. TCU will make a case with its win over Kansas State, but Alabama was already on the door stop waiting for the door to open. For a while Saturday night it looked as though Alabama was destined to stumble, and they nearly did.

Alabama lost running back T.J. Yeldon to injury late in the fourth quarter (Head coach Nick Saban did not seem too concerned about the extent of the injury in a brief on-field postgame interview). Yeldon fumbled the football away to LSU deep in Alabama’s end of the field, but the defense held strong enough to force the home team to settle for a field goal. The late field goal gave LSU a 13-10 lead, but the ensuing kickoff dribbled out-of-bounds to set the Alabama offense up in good starting field position. With just 50 seconds to use, offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin came through with some good play-calling and Blake Sims ran the offense to near perfection to move into position for a game-tying field goal in the final seconds. Adam Griffith, who had one field goal bounce off the goal post earlier in the game, came through with a 27-yard field goal to send the game to an extra session.

In the overtime, Alabama’s offense got creative and confused LSU’s defense by sending an offensive lineman out at a wide receiver position, only to send beefy tight end Brandon Greene for a 24-yard gain. A silly unsportsmanlike penalty ended up taking away a chunk of that gain, but Alabama ended the opening overtime possession with Sims connecting with an open DeAndrew White for a touchdown. LSU’s offense was unable to match it, with Anthony Jennings seeing his fourth down pass attempt fall incomplete to clinch the victory for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama took a 10-7 lead into the halftime, thanks in part to wide receiver Amari Cooper rewriting the history books while putting the team on his back for the only touchdown of the game. Cooper’s touchdown reception from Blake Sims in the second quarter was the highlight of the game for Alabama’s offense, but he also became the school’s all-time leading receiver in the first half while making some key plays to move the offense.

This sets the stage for another mega match-up in the SEC West next week. Alabama returns home to host top-ranked Mississippi State with first place in the division on the line. Mississippi State remains the only undefeated team in the SEC, but Alabama will hope to take advantage of playing at home. Alabama has won six straight meetings with Mississippi State, and the Bulldogs have not won in Tuscaloosa since 2006. Whichever team wins next week will likely be the SEC’s best hope to make the College Football Playoff, while the loser will be likely to be left out o the mix at the end.

LSU will wrap up the regular season on the road for its final two games. Next week LSU plays at Arkansas. The Tigers end the regular season at Texas A&M on Thanksgiving.