Alabama football’s quarterback battle is over for the moment. Veteran Mac Jones, who stepped in for Tua Tagovailoa last season, will get the Week 1 start at Missouri.
Jones beat out Bryce Young, who many view as the future of the program, and the true heir apparent to Tagovailoa. Young is a former five-star, and emerged as the top-ranked 2020 quarterback recruit last season. 247Sports ranked him the No. 2 overall player in the country.
Historically, Nick Saban has opted for the more experienced, older player. However, as he showed with the bold decisions to swap in freshman Jalen Hurts in the season opener a few years ago, and then Tagovailoa at halftime of the national championship against Georgia, he’s opened up a bit in that regard. It coincides with a shift from a pro style, ground-and-pound offense to more of a college-style spread in recent years.
Assuming Alabama blows out some opponents, Young will get his chances this year. He may even have the opportunity to give the team a spark in big moments, if things get shaky. However, Mac Jones should have the trust of his teammates. Blake Sims, Alabama’s starting quarterback in 2014, says he believes in Jones as the starter.
I believe in Mac jones #rolldamntide
— Blake Sims (@_bsims6) September 23, 2020
Last season, Jones completed 97 of 141 passes for 1,503 yards and 14 touchdowns, with three interceptions. He was especially strong in the Citrus Bowl win over Michigan, throwing for 327 yards and three touchdowns.
Unfortunately for Jones, he lost the Iron Bowl as starter, which left a sour taste in the mouths of some Alabama football fans. He completed two-thirds of his throws in that one, throwing for a season high 335 yards and four touchdowns, but also two very costly pick-sixes in a 48-45 loss.
If the offense looks to be hitting a low ceiling, we know Saban won’t be afraid to put in Young and accelerate his development as Alabama’s quarterback of the future. Jones should be well equipped to fend that off for a while though, especially with the valuable experience he picked up in 2019.
Alabama at Missouri kicks off at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.