Alabama's Key Players Entering The 2014 College Football Playoff
We are less than three weeks away from the first annual College Football Playoff and the anticipation couldn’t be any greater. In a season that saw dramatic twists and turns in the weekly rankings, the season now comes down to four teams for a chance to take home the first ever College Football Playoff trophy.
The four teams, Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State, all took very different paths to get to this point, but now they all start from the same spot for a chance at the ultimate prize. All four teams have their strengths that have allowed them to get to this point. These four teams also have their fare share of star players and we will take a look at a few of them.
The Alabama Crimson Tide come into the College Football Playoff as the number one ranked team and we will take a look at their key players as we enter their semi-final matchup against Ohio State.
The three key players that stand out for Alabama above all others are as followed.
Alabama quarterback Blake Sims- Sims entered this season in a quarterback competition with Jacob Coker. After seeing how well Sims did this season it’s hard to believe there was any debate at all in the preseason.
Sims this season was 230 for 355 passing for a completion percentage of 64.8%. Sims threw for 3,250 total yards with 26 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He had a quarterback rating of 161.9, which was one of the best in all of FBS college football this season.
Sims brought a dimension to the Alabama offense that hasn’t been seen in years. That dimension was the ability to scramble and make plays with his legs when plays broke down. He is a sneaky fast guy who seems to be able to make something out at nothing just when Alabama needs a big play.
Sims is the leader of a dynamic Alabama offense that has produced results unlike any other Alabama team in the history of their historic program. If Alabama hopes to win the 2014 national title he must keep up his efficient play against stiff competition.
Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper- The most explosive and valuable player to this 2014 Alabama team has been star wide out Amari Cooper. Cooper is a 2014 Heisman Trophy finalist and has put up numbers like few have done before him in the history of Alabama football.
Cooper had an FBS leading 115 receptions and 1,656 total receiving yards. Cooper had 14 touchdowns and averaged 14.4 yards per catch. He has game breaking speed and possesses the ability to run accurate routes, which takes the pressure off of Sims to deliver the ball in tough situations.
Cooper is the main weapon in this Alabama offense and we should expect him to be the main point of focus for opposing defenses during these College Football Playoffs. He will have to continue his historic production if Alabama hopes to win it all this season and if the regular season was any indication, then he is more than capable of carrying Alabama to a national title this season.
Alabama safety Landon Collins- The unquestioned leader of this vicious 2014 Alabama defense is safety Landon Collins. Collins is the heart and soul of an Alabama defense that has had its ups and downs.
The Alabama front seven is one of the best in the country, but the secondary is the weakness of this Alabama team. Collins is great when it comes to stopping the run game, but he and his fellow secondary members have had issues at defending the pass.
The issue is most teams don’t take enough chances down field against the Tide because of the pressure the front seven applies on opposing team’s quarterbacks. Collins is still the voice that helps keep Alabama on track in all phases of defense and his leadership quality goes beyond the field of play for this 2014 Crimson Tide team.
If Alabama hopes to slow down some of the explosive offenses they will face during these playoffs, Collins will have to be the voice and guy that helps lead the way. Alabama’s defense has been deemed not to be as good as in the past, but they still are one of the best in the nation and continue to prove that each week.