Tua vs. Jalen. Hurts vs. Tagovailoa. Who will win? Will the one who loses transfer? Those are some of the questions we have heard ad nauseum since Tua Tagovailoa went on to lead Alabama to a national championship after replacing the benched Jalen Hurts.
Lost in the discussion, however, is the forgotten quarterback on Alabama’s roster: Mac Jones. Jones was a 3 star QB out of Jacksonville, Florida. Just the #18 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2017, Jones was overshadowed by Tagovailoa, who was in the same class.
Between the returning Hurts and the freshman phenom Tagovailoa, Jones’ services were not needed in 2017; and he redshirted. The only time we’ve seen Jones in action has been at A-Day. With Tagovailoa’s injury this past spring, Jones had sole command of the Crimson offense.
While it looks like both Hurts and Tagovailoa will be around for the 2018 season, you never know what may happen, especially with the new redshirt rule.
1st and 10: Jones is in the shotgun with Brian Robinson (#24) on his left hip. Crimson has trips left with WR Mac Hereford (#36) the lone receiver on the right. The defense is showing Cover 1; so the defensive back on Hereford (I’m almost positive it’s #13 Nigel Knott, but I’m not certain) is on an island. Hereford runs a little 7ish yard hitch and gets separation from the defensive back. Before he had that separation, Jones was already beginning to throw it to him. Hereford comes back for it and makes the catch, but the DB does a good job of getting to him and stops the plays for a 4 yard gain.
1st and 10: Jones is in the gun again with Robinson on his right. The playaction sucks the safety, Daniel Wright (#3) down. This creates a big ol’ hole in the secondary; and Jones throws a beauty of a ball to Kedrick James, who’s wide open, streaking down the seam. It’s not a difficult play or anything, but Jones executes it well.
2nd and 5: There’s nothing fancy here either. Jones is in shotgun, and WR Xavian Marks (#19) is lined up wide right. Nigel Knott is in press coverage on him, and Marks just runs a fly route down the sideline. Knott doesn’t jam Marks, letting him have a clean release. Jones throws well-placed to Marks’ outside shoulder, but it’s just a little too far in front of him. A taller receiver, with longer arms, may have had a better chance at hauling it in.
3rd and 5: It’s the next play. Crimson has trips left, with Marks, WR Chadarius Townsend (#12), and TE Major Tennison (#88). Tennison runs down the seam while Marks and Townsend run in routes. Tennison’s deep route draws the inside linebacker (the now gone VanDarius Cowan) towards him, leaving a lot of green open. Jones throws an easy pass, placing it in front of Townsend, which allows him to catch it in stride. Townsend turns it upfield; and, after some poor tackling attempts, gets free, streaking down the sideline for a touchdown.
3rd and 10: Jones is in the gun and completes his three step drop. He had trips left and has been staring down the #3 receiver (the inner-most one), TE Major Tennison (#88), who is running down the left hashmark. In addition to staring Tennison down, there appears to be a miscommunication between the two. Jones uncorks a pass to the inside, but Tennison has already broken towards the sideline. Jared Mayden (#21) is back at safety and makes an easy interception.
Takeaway: It is important to remember that while Jones was going up against a very thin second team secondary, he looked sharp and would be named the game’s Offensive MVP.