Nick Saban: QB Mac Jones Has to Be 'Lead Dog' in Place of Injured Tua Tagovailoa

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2019

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (10) rears back to pass downfield as a Mississippi State defender pursues during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Alabama won 38-7. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

With Tua Tagovailoa out for the remainder of the season, Mac Jones has gone from holding clipboards to being responsible for keeping Alabama in the College Football Playoff race.

Tide coach Nick Saban spoke to Jones after Tagovailoa was ruled out, telling him he's the new "lead dog" of the team.

"You're not a sparring partner anymore," Saban told reporters Wednesday of his conversation with Jones. "You're the lead dog, so you've got to be in control of what you're doing and have positive body language, not only in terms of what you do but in how you affect other people."

Tagovailoa, who was widely expected to garner consideration for the No. 1 overall pick, suffered a dislocated and fractured hip in last Saturday's win over Mississippi State. Jones entered the game and threw for 94 yards on 7-of-11 passing as the Tide stuck to the ground in the second half of a 38-7 blowout.

The sophomore has thrown for 566 yards and four touchdowns this season, most notably starting in place of Tagovailoa in a 48-7 win over Arkansas. Jones completed 18 of 22 passes for 235 yards and three scores in that contest.

"We have a lot of confidence in him, and we have some good players around him, so hopefully he'll be able to do his job well enough to continue to allow some of those players to be successful as well," Saban said.

Jones will have what amounts to a warm-up game Saturday against 3-8 Western Carolina before finishing the regular season against Auburn. Should Jones reasonably approximate Tagovailoa's performance level over the next two weeks, Alabama could sneak in the final playoff spot.

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