Alabama football: To heck with Trevor Lawrence, give me Mac Jones any day
Kids these days, with their fancy-schmancy video game terminals and their high-speed internet and their 500 channels of television, have no idea what actual football is and actual football players look like.
In this instant-bliss era, EA Sports’ Madden football video game series teaches these youngsters that chucking the ball a zillion times is all you need to succeed at quarterback. Deliver a strong play-action fake and check down to your running back? That isn’t as fun as it is to mash the “Four Verticals” button and try to torch your buddy’s defense on the other end of your WiFi connection. And if it doesn’t work? Just yank the power cord out of the wall and reset the entire thing.
For that generation, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the embodiment of this philosophy. With a gaudy arm and some Prell-level follicles, Lawrence barely gets touched by Charmin-soft ACC defenses and will seemingly smile his way to the No. 1 overall pick in next spring’s NFL Draft.
But over here in reality, we like our quarterbacks to be more than just 64-bit, post-throwing emoticons. We like our helmsmen to be tough, to be decisive and to be field generals.
Which is why we will take Alabama coach Mac Jones every day, and twice on Saturday, over Lawrence.
It is practically even money that Jones or Lawrence will hoist an oversized bronze trophy as the nation’s most outstanding college football player in New York City in December. And it is also practically even money that Jones or Lawrence — or both — will lead their respective squads to the College Football Playoff as well.
But where Jones clearly separates himself from Lawrence lies not in the stats and highlights, but in the actual playing of the darn game. This was evidenced in 2 different 60-minute sessions of football Saturday.
In the early game, Lawrence and the top-ranked Clemson Tigers took the field against Georgia Tech. Now, as ACC opponents go, Georgia Tech is on the level like, say Vanderbilt. There wasn’t much of a chance of Clemson being upset in this one, as our friends in the desert were affording 27 points to anyone dumb enough to take Georgia Tech.
So it came to precisely no one’s surprise that Lawrence hair-flipped and sunshined his way to a 24-of-32 outing for 404 yards and 5 1st-half touchdowns. But throwing for 404 and 5 in just over a half of football against Georgia Tech isn’t exactly overwhelming. Actually, “expected” is more the adjective that comes to mind.
Fast-forward to the varsity match on prime time. No 2 Alabama was welcoming No. 3 Georgia — owners of perhaps the best defense in the SEC — to Bryant-Denny Stadium. By all accounts, this was going to be the game that Jones showed some level of uneven play, mediocrity perhaps, as the Bulldogs buzzed his tower all night long.
So what happened? From these eyeballs, Jones flat out-played Lawrence.
The junior directed the Tide offense with aplomb all evening, making a single error — a 1st-play-of-the-game interception caused more by a hit from a Georgia defender than actual inaccuracy — en route to a 417-yard, 4-touchdown masterpiece and a 41-24 victory.
Not only did Jones slice and dice Georgia, he did so while often dealing with multiple Georgia defenders smack-dab in his face and through 3 sacks and several more near-misses while completing 24-of-32 pass attempts.
Jones was mislabeled before the season began as a “game manager,” which is a fancy term for “hand the ball off to Najee Harris 38 times a game and let your defense win games.” Jones was also seemingly destined to lose the starting quarterback job before the season even began, as hot-shot freshman Bryce Young was the internet darling and apparent 2.0 version of a certain sweet Hawaiian prince.
All those characterizations are simply untrue. Fake news, if you will.
Mac Jones is a ballplayer. A gunslinger. A quarterback’s quarterback. He will stand there and take a hit if it means finding DeVonta Smith in the end zone. He will scramble out of the pocket and create time for Jaylen Waddle to get open. He will get on his horse and lower a shoulder if a play breaks down and a couple of yards are needed to keep a drive alive.
A telling moment that most missed Saturday night came from one of Jones’ 8 incompletions. It was in the 1st half, and miscommunication with receivers meant Jones was high-lowed by a pair of Bulldogs defenders. Jones was dragged up by an offensive lineman, and exhibited just a glimpse of frustration before heading to the sideline to confer with offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
That happens in football. And it seemed clear that Jones wasn’t upset with his receivers for not getting open. He was upset at himself for the play’s breakdown, and wanted to fix it post-haste.
That is a quarterback, kids.
So you can have Trevor Lawrence and his flowing locks that will probably look really sweet cascading out the back of a Washington Football Team helmet in Madden NFL 22.
I’ll take Mac Jones and his baller attitude. He takes a hit and comes back for more. Much more.