Mac Jones has made everyone lose their minds.
The Patriots rookie is the quarterback upon whom no one can agree, apparently. There are corners of the football-watching universe that would say he’s a product of Bill Belichick’s system. There are others that believe the aforementioned group has no idea what it’s looking at.
If it sounds familiar, that’s because it is. You’ve already heard this debate. For about a decade. Back in the early 2000s. Before Tom Brady had truly established himself as one of the best to ever play — and well before he cemented himself as the best — there was a similar discussion surrounding the Patriots.
This is a really good piece from NBC. Mac Jones, for all of his unassuming nature, has found his way into the middle of Twitter argument after Twitter argument ever since his college career ended. It’s been fun to watch everyone absolutely hate on him leading up to the draft, only to turn around and sing praises of him now that he’s playing very, very well for the Patriots.
“It’s not often that Alabama is on the other side of that, but, hey, we have to control what we can control,” Neal said. “We’re approaching this game like any other game. We’re approaching this game with intentions to win.”
In the past, any slights — perceived, contrived or real — would be used as motivation around the football complex. Scott Cochran, the strength coach from 2007-19 who is now a part of Georgia’s staff, was known to post signs around the building to highlight any public doubt placed on Alabama.
“I haven’t seen any signs or anything, not as much,” Neal said. “I don’t feel like being an underdog is motivation. I just feel it’s like us being competitive and us wanting to go out and win, be who we are. I think that’s what motivates us.”
Alabama is, for the first time since 2015, the betting underdog in a game. That speaks as much to the Tide’s obvious fallibility this season as it does to Georgia’s dominance, and the Bulldogs absolutely deserve all the respect they get for putting together what has been one of the best college football defenses of all time.
For me, personally, once Alabama took down Tennessee, LSU, and Auburn and won the West, I no longer feel nervous or tight. The Tide met my expectations for this season, and anything more will just be a bonus.
Hopefully, that looseness translates to the players in this championship game. I expect the Bulldogs to be weighed down with their past failures against Bama and the mantle of being a nearly perfect team this year. If Alabama can capitalize on that early in the game, it will go a long way towards building a buffer before the Bulldogs settle in.
Georgia is a 6.5 point favorite to win this game (Tipico SportsBook), and many in the media are predicting that this is the week that Kirby Smart is finally able to take that next step and beat his former boss Nick Saban.
Here’s some predictions from members of the national media ahead of the 2021 SEC Championship Game.
In any case, here’s a roundup of national media predictions for Georgia to win. Pretty much nobody is giving Alabama much of a shot here. Are they all right? Good chance of it. But Alabama does have one major advantage that could tip the scales:
I can remember a lot of things related to my life covering college athletics, and particularly Alabama football. Some might expect that interest to extend to pro football, but it doesn’t. That’s why I can’t remember which teams were involved in an upcoming Super Bowl game in the 1970s. But I remember what I learned.
I was a member of Alabama’s sports information office and had gone to Crimson Tide Coach Paul Bryant’s office for some reason. A Super Bowl was pending and I asked him which team he thought would win.
“When two teams appear to be evenly matched, go with the best coach,” he said.
I remember that Tom Landry was coach of the Dallas Cowboys and that was the winning team.
Obviously there are other factors – best quarterback, for instance, or suffocating defense – but I’ve always considered the best coach aspect as critical.
That would be Nick Saban.
We’ve already got an extensive history of Georgia and Kirby Smart choking in the biggest games.
Will the coaching on each side of the field be what tips the scales towards an Alabama team that’s a notch behind Georgia in terms of talent and results?
Remains to be seen... But I know I wouldn’t bet one dollar on any potential outcome.
“But from my understanding of the recruitment, they recruited him, but he was an in-between kid. They didn’t know if he would fit the outside linebacker scheme where they would use him more in space and use him out and about, out of the box or if he was gonna grow to be big enough to play the four technique to be a defensive tackle. So he was in between. He wasn’t big enough for one but then wasn’t agile or athletic for another.
“Alabama, they already knew what they wanted to do with him. He’s gonna be a pass-rush specialist. ‘We want him to come get after the quarterback. We’re barely gonna use him to cover. We want him to pass rush and pass rush some more.’ Georgia just didn’t know what they wanted to do with him, and they kind of fell off and never offered him, to be honest.”
Added his mother, Tereon Anderson, “Every player starts out wanting to play at the college of their state so, of course, that was the dream. It was the dream for Will. It was what we expected as the hype came. ‘Oh, he’s gonna get the offer from UGA.’ When it didn’t happen, we transitioned well. We still love our home state, but that wasn’t the plan. And so we transitioned to the schools that were interested, which, thankfully, one of them was Alabama.”
Finally, here’s a nice little piece about how UGA ruined their shot at having Will Anderson on their dominant defense, letting the nations best player wind up at Alabama anyway.
Trust me, we all appreciate it!