Alabama Football: Grading Mac Jones and Sark in Tide first post-Tua test

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

Mac Jones had a test on Saturday as the Alabama football QB1. Check out how Mac graded on each drive against Western Carolina.

On Senior Day in Tuscaloosa, Steve Sarkisian started the new Alabama football offense off conservatively. Mac Jones was eased into his starting quarterback role. The result was eight plays and 46 yards, aided by pass interference on Western Carolina. The end result was a Joseph Bulovas 29-yard  field goal. Mac overthrew an open Major Tennison in the end zone prior to the field goal. Alabama football led 3-0

Drive 1 Grades, 3 points,  Mac Jones B- Steve Sarkisian A-

Sarkisian started drive two with a crisp play-action, allowing Jones to go deep to Jerry Jeudy. Jeudy was open but the pass was overthrown. After an impressive run by Najee Harris, Jones threw a wide receiver screen to Devonta Smith. The result was a 57-yard touchdown as Smitty sprinted through the Catamount defense. Alabama football led 10-0.

Drive 2 Grades, 7 points, Mac Jones B- Steve Sarkisian A

Starting at its own two-yard line after a 48-yard punt, Sarkisian was conservative. After three running plays, the Tide was forced to punt. On third down, Jones did not handle the snap and handoff to Najee Harris cleanly. The result was a three-and-out. Alabama football led 10-0

Drive 3 Grades, 0 points, Mac Jones C  Steve Sarkisian B+

Before the fourth Tide drive, Xavier McKinney intercepted Western Carolina and returned it for an 81-yard touchdown. Alabama football led 17-0.

The Tide’s fourth drive opened with a 44-yard completion from Jones to Jerry Jeudy. The throw was on target but Jeudy had to slow down slightly, otherwise, it might have been a touchdown. At the Western Carolina 10-yard line, the Tide punched it in on the ground. Jones showed good patience on a second-down, rollout that became a four-yard rushing gain. Alabama football led 24-0

Drive 4 Grades, 7 points, Mac Jones A-  Steve Sarkisian A

A short drive of four plays led to another Crimson Tide touchdown. Three of the four plays were passes by Jones. The second pass was a good throw to Jaylen Waddle for a 44-yard gain. The third pass was a 12-yard touchdown toss to Najee Harris. Alabama football led 31-0

Drive 5 Grades, 7 points, Mac Jones A  Steve Sarkisian A

A smoke-screen from Jones to Jaylen Waddle became a 54-yard touchdown. After the one-play drive, Alabama football led 38-0.

Drive 6 Grades, 7 points, Mac Jones A  Steve Sarkisian A

Mac Jones finished the first half, 9-for-11 for 253 yards and a QB rating of 365. Jones played well overall and much of the credit should go to the schemes and calls by Steve Sarkisian.

The first second-half drive was a short field after a Jared Mayden interception. On first down, Jones made a nice throw to Jerry Jeudy for 22 yards to the Western Carolina five-yard line. Two runs by Najee Harris and Alabama football led 45-0.

Drive 7 Grades, 7 points, Mac Jones A  Steve Sarkisian A

At 12:10 to go in the third quarter, Taulia Tagovailoa took over for Mac Jones. Taking over after another Mayden interception, it took the Tide four plays to score. The touchdown was a Taulia pass to Devonta Smith for a 15-yard touchdown. Lia worked with the entire first unit on the drive.

The overall performance of Mac Jones was outstanding. Perhaps even more impressive was the plan and play-calling of Steve Sarkisian. Sark used play-action and moved the pocket successfully. Other than a couple of early missed throws, Jones was efficient.

Job one on Saturday was to build confidence in the new Mac Jones-led Alabama football offense. Job two was for the offense to look as explosive with Mac as it had been with Tua. Both tasks were accomplished.

Next. As predicted, Mac Jones is better than expected. dark

Some perspective is required. The Western Carolina defense is less capable than the Crimson Tide second unit. In FCS Total Defense stats, the Catamounts are ranked No. 98.