You wouldn’t expect a 6-foot-5, 250-pound bulldozer of a man to be able to sneak up on people, but that’s basically what Cardale Jones did to the Alabama defense last January.
In a Monday radio interview with Atlanta’s 680 The Fan, Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart admitted that some of his defensive players told him after the Sugar Bowl that they didn’t respect Jones enough heading into the contest.
Jones threw for 242 yards and one touchdown, while rushing for 38 yards and a touchdown, in the Buckeyes’ surprising 42-35 victory against Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal game.
“I said … “Where did we go wrong? What did we do wrong,” Smart asked a trio of his players following the game. “All three of them said they did not the respect the quarterback.”
“Our job as the coaches was to make them respect the quarterback,” Smart said. “Well, they heard from the media, they heard from ESPN, they heard from everybody that he was a third-string quarterback. How can a third-string quarterback beat Alabama? We didn’t promote him enough, and they didn’t value his talents enough. And he came in – we thought he was a really good passer — well, he ran the ball well, too.
“Well, we had not seen him run the ball. Physical. And not a runner like [Alabama quarterback Blake Sims] and not a runner like their other guy [Barrett]. This guy was just lumbering and big and ran through arm tackles, even [from] our big, physical defensive guys.”
One thing is certain heading into the 2015 college football season: everyone will be respecting Cardale Jones.