Alabama Football: Just like Sark drew it up against Arkansas

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Alabama football dominated Arkansas Saturday with Mac Jones replacing an injured Tua Tagovailoa. Steve Sarkisian’s game plan for Jones was perfect.

It has been a week of consternation for many Alabama football fans. Once word of Tua Tagovailoa’s Sunday surgery was released, some Tide fans were vocal in concern of Mac Jones being the starting quarterback on Nov. 9 against LSU.

There was no concern about an Alabama football win over Arkansas – with Mac Jones or other Crimson Tide players taking snaps. Saturday night showed the disrespect for the Hogs may have been rude but not misplaced.

Two storylines came out of Tuscaloosa during the week of Arkansas preparation. One was Tua’s injury was less severe than the ankle injury he suffered last season. Based on that news, the often-voiced expectations he could play against LSU got the most attention.

There was another quieter storyline. According to some Alabama football insiders, Mac Jones was said to be looking sharp in practice. Not only was Mac throwing well, he was being a leader, taking charge of the Crimson Tide offense.

The two storylines did not keep a few Alabama football fans from believing Jones and Taulia Tagovaioa should split playing time against the Hogs. Those fans claimed if Tua was not healthy enough to take on LSU, Lia, not Mac had the best chance of attacking the LSU defense.

In the Alabama football offices, there were no storylines. There were only Nick Saban’s decisions and the plans of his coaching staff. One member of that staff, Offensive Coordinator, Steve Sarkisian is known for scripting plays at the start of games. This time he needed a longer script – a plan to get the most from Mac Jones’ talents, while not asking too much of the first-time starter.

What Sark did with Mac in the Tide’s opening drive was masterful. Yes, the result was only a field goal but it made the inexperienced quarterback carefully productive. Take a look at the 14-play drive.

  1. Najee Harris rush for 3 yards
  2. Jerry Jeudy, jet sweep for 14 yards
  3. Najee Harris rush, 3 yards
  4. Devonta Smith, jet sweep for 6 yards
  5. Najee Harris rush, 5 yards
  6. Najee Harris rush, 13 yards
  7. Najee Harris, draw run, 4 yards
  8. Mac Jones pass complete to Miller Forristall for no gain
  9. Mac Jones screen pass to Jerry Jeudy for 8 yards
  10. Mac Jones pass complete to Miller Forristall for 11 yards
  11. Brian Robinson rush for 1 yard
  12. Mac Jones pass incomplete to Devonta Smith
  13. Mac Jones rush for 1 yard
  14. Joseph Bulovas made 31-yard field goal

At the end, the drive stalled and the last scramble by Jones had almost no chance of making a first down. But Sark’s script was a success. The Tide offense put up points and Mac Jones settled in.

Mac Jones finished 18-for-22, for 235 yards and three touchdowns. He had no turnovers. His third TD pass was a 40-yard beauty to a streaking Jerry Jeudy. Mac Jones grew up Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. If he is needed against LSU, he now appears capable of playing well.

Before we mark up another victory on Nov. 9, we should remember Jones was competing against Arkansas. The Razorbacks may or may not be the worst team in the SEC. They are nothing that resembles LSU.

Next. Tua Tagovailoa deserves the Heisman. dark

What did Nick Saban have to say about Mac’s performance? The Tide head coach said Mac was “efficient and effective in the passing game.” Which is all Nick, Sark and his Tide teammates need him to be.