Mac Jones’ 'really good week' encouraging to Saban as season nears

Cecil Hurt
The Tuscaloosa News

Whether Alabama had a scrimmage last Saturday or, as Nick Saban phrased it “a controlled game situation,” the improvement for Mac Jones was noticeable for the coach — and the quarterback. 

“I think Mac has had a really good week this week, had a really good day on Saturday,” Saban said on a Zoom call with Alabama media Tuesday. “Maybe (he was) not quite what we’d want in the first scrimmage, but a lot of guys didn’t play as well as we’d like in the first scrimmage.

“We made a huge improvement to the next Saturday and hopefully, we’ll make another big jump this Saturday.”

As a senior with game experience, Jones is, as anticipated, the leader of the quarterback competition, although Saban also mentioned his competitors Tuesday. “I think Bryce (Young) has shown he’s a very talented guy. He’s just got to get more knowledge and experience to be able to be a little more consistent in terms of his execution. And Paul (Tyson) has made a significant amount of improvement, as well. We’re gonna keep working with them. If they were where they needed to be, we wouldn’t need to practice anymore, and I promise you, we all need to practice.”

Jones, who made a lengthy appearance on the Zach Gelb syndicated radio show this week, said he feels that he has the trust of his offensive teammates. 

“It goes back to my teammates,” Jones said. “I have a good bond with my teammates, I think those guys trust me, and hopefully, I can earn their respect every day. But at the end of the day, I just want to have fun and win, because winning is fun. I think Coach is going to put the best player out there, and I’ve earned it over the year and I’ll continue to try to be the best teammate and player I can be to get us to the national championship where we want to be.

“I think all the guys in our QB room have worked really hard. Bryce has come in, he’s learned the playbook, he’s been doing a good job with that. Paul Tyson has improved a lot, just getting that experience with the second offense, just getting a lot of reps there. And then all of our walk-on quarterbacks have to be ready to play, too. 

“With this coronavirus stuff, anything can happen. So, every guy in that room has to be ready to get their number called, and I think they’ve done a great job coming in, if they’re a freshman, or moving into that older spot like a guy like Paul. They’ve done a good job.”

Jones also said he is physically stronger than he was a year ago.

"I’m up to 218 pounds,”he told Gelb. “It’s good weight, too. I don’t think I’m fat, but some people might call me a little chunky. But it’s good weight, and just adding that weight makes me feel more confident taking bigger hits.”

Saban also spoke about improvement in the defensive front seven as senior Dylan Moses eases back into competitive shape a year after knee surgery. 

“I see improvements in the front seven just with the leadership that Dylan gives us,” Saban said. “I think he’s playing his way back into shape and developing confidence and going out there not worried about getting injured and doing the things that he needs to do to create value for himself.

“In the secondary, because of the lack of experience that we have we continue to work with players and try to get them to communicate a little bit better,” Saban said. “But I do think that I’m encouraged by the way we’re playing up front but we gotta get a lot better in a lot of situations on defense. You can’t give up big plays. There’s just so many areas that we need to make progress in. There were too many mental errors last year (that) were really detrimental in our ability to be successful.”  

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