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Countdown to kickoff: In ‘19, Mac broke out

In hindsight, a superstar grew up before our eyes.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Michigan vs Alabama Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

With the benefit of hindsight, it’s laughable that Mac Jones was the key question mark for Alabama headed into the 2020 season. Owing to the reputation of backup Bryce Young coming out of high school, many guessed that Mac would lose the starting job at some point in the season, including a majority of those polled right here. There were even a few who felt that Young should start from week one.

All of this, despite the fact that Mac had done everything on the field to show us that he was ready to run with the best of the best. As I wrote in December 2019 while comparing his numbers to Heisman winner Joe Burrow:

Since Alabama’s season is officially over we can now turn to the Heisman race, where Mac Jones, with his all-time record 210.93 passer rating as the Crimson Tide starting quarterback, anxiously awaits the results of the voting.

Mac’s performance as the QB1 of the explosive Alabama attack is just staggering. He has completed 74% of his passes at a remarkable clip of 11.6 yards per attempt. Most impressively, he has thrown a touchdown pass for every 7.3 attempts, another all-time record.

Did I write that primarily to troll LSU fans? It’s possible.

Still, the fact of the matter is that Mac put up a better passer rating than both Burrow and predecessor Tua Tagovailoa as a starting quarterback in 2019. He closed out the season by lighting up a top ten Michigan defense with a 213.5 rating, 327 yards and three TDs in the Capital One Bowl. He clearly had the confidence of the team and coaching staff, yet fans and pundits alike assumed a wide open camp battle for the starting QB job.

We now know that Mac’s starts in 2019 were no fluke. All he did in 2020 was lead an undefeated team to a national title, breaking Burrow’s single season passer rating record with a 203.6 mark along the way, against a 13 game schedule consisting of 11 SEC opponents and two playoff teams. He finished his career #2 in NCAA history in the passer rating metric, behind only former teammate Tagovailoa. The New England Patriots saw fit to make him a first round pick in April’s draft.

And folks thought he’d lose his starting job to a freshman.

We are now 19 days from kickoff.

Roll Tide.