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Alabama Football Film Room: Mac Jones responded well after Iron Bowl mistakes

Jones had some costly plays, but he bounced back.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Auburn John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Mac Jones threw two awful pick sixes against Auburn. The first was to an open receiver that would have allowed Alabama to convert on third down but instead allowed Auburn to take the lead. The second turned a drive that likely would’ve ended with Alabama up by at least four into a six point Auburn lead.

In his first real start (sorry Arkansas and Western Carolina), Jones committed two huge blunders. I think most wouldn’t have been surprised if either of those mistakes rattled Jones and led to further mistakes on subsequent drives. That didn’t happen, however.

On the two drives following his interceptions, Jones was 6-8 for 99 yards and 2 touchdowns. Seeing him keeping his composure and responding like he did was encouraging, at least. That, and his overall performance, give him something to build on entering the QB competition this offseason.

1st and 10: It’s the first offensive play for Jones (#10) he threw his first pick six. Alabama has three receivers (well, two wide receivers and one tight end) bunched in tight on the right, and DeVonta Smith (#6) is the lone receiver to the left. Auburn has one deep safety, shaded to Smith’s side. Smith gets a clean release and runs an out and up. The Auburn corner doesn’t bite too hard on the out route, but that clean release has allowed Smith to get separation. Jones begins his throw right as Smith turns up and lofts a perfectly placed ball to Smith in between the corner and the safety coming over. It’s a 33 yard gain, and Bama’s to the Auburn 4 yard line.

3rd and goal: It’s a similar formation to the first play. Henry Ruggs (#11) is in the bunch on the right, the back right man. Ruggs runs a step or two angling to the left before shooting past defenders to the back of the endzone and heading to the far corner.. Major Tennison (#88) ran a little stick route and provides some traffic to the area. Auburn’s Derrick Brown (#5) beats right guard Deonte Brown (#65) right off the bat, not giving center Landeron Dickerson (#69) a chance to get over to help. With a whole lot of human bearing down on him, Jones throws off his back foot and puts it right on the money for Ruggs.

2nd and 9: It’s the second play for Jones after his second pick six (the first was a one yard completion to DeVonta Smith). Jones is in shotgun with Najee Harris (#22) back to his right and Jahleel Billingsley (#19) as the H-back to his left. There are two receivers wide left, and Ruggs is by his lonesome on the right with the cornerback in press coverage. Jones fakes the handoff and turns to throw to Ruggs right away. He places the back shoulder fade perfectly, and Ruggs stops and hauls it in. With some solid yards after the catch, it turns into a 24 yard gain.

2nd and 10: Two plays later (there was an incompletion to Jerry Jeudy on first down), Jones is in the pistol with Harris behind. There are three wide left with a tight end in-line on the left as well. Jones once again fakes the run. He hits his drop and start climbing back up the pocket. Auburn rushed just four; and the Alabama offensive line took care of business, giving Jones all the time in the world. Jones keeps his feet moving, shuffling forward, while keeping his eyes down the field waiting for the route he wants to open up. Smith, who was the #1 receiver (the farthest out from the line) comes open on a crossing route; and Jones delivers a dart to him, albeit a little high. Smith picks up a chunk of YAC and a 26 yard gain.

1st and 10: It’s the very next play. Jones has the running back and H-back to his right. There’s one receiver to that side; and Jeudy (#4), out wide, and Jaylen Waddle (#17), the slot, to the left. Waddle fakes an in-breaking route and gets the defensive back to commit to that direction before smoothly releasing to the outside on a deep out route. The defensive back recovers fairly well, but it was all Waddle needed. Jones has a clean pocket and throws it perfectly so only his receiver can catch it. Waddle does, and Alabama retakes the lead on the PAT.