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January 7, 2013
NOTEBOOK: Foot injury doesn't slow Jones
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. | While there was no doubt that injured University of Alabama center Barrett Jones would play Monday in the BCS National Championship Game, whether the foot injury that Jones spent weeks rehabilitating would make him less effective was among the game's biggest pregame questions.
In a 42-14 Alabama win for its 15th national championship, that question was answered emphatically.
Jones played like a healthy center, and the weak link that the Fighting Irish had no doubt hoped to find in the middle of the Alabama offense wasn't weak in the least.
The first sign that Jones' foot injury would not be a problem came on the opening drive, when the Crimson Tide capped an 82-yard touchdown march when Eddie Lacy ran for a 20-yard score right behind a one-on-one block by Jones. In fact, against a 3-4 Notre Dame defense featuring massive nose guard Louis Nix, the Alabama staff went the entire opening drive without calling a play that called for guard help for Jones on Nix.
Alabama All-Southeastern Conference left guard Chance Warmack and right guard Anthony Steen were expected to provide Jones with double-team help on Nix.
On the first drive, he didn't need any.
Nor on the second.
And when Lacy broke his second 20-yard run of the game to the 3 to set up the Crimson Tide's second touchdown, that also came behind a Jones block.
The first time Nix was able to make Alabama pay for single-blocking him with Jones came on a loss of 2 yards by running back T.J. Yeldon, with Nix pushing Jones into the backfield and making a solo tackle late in the first quarter.
It made no ultimate difference, however, as the Crimson Tide marched for its third touchdown on the same possession.
Before the game, Jones' parents, Rex and Leslie, stood in for the Rimington Trophy winner (nation's top center) in a ceremony along with the winners of the other national college awards.
When UA quarterback AJ McCarron threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Michael Williams in the first quarter, it marked the first touchdown pass thrown by an Alabama quarterback in a national championship game since Jeff Rutledge found Bruce Bolton for a 30-yard score in a Sugar Bowl win over Penn State following the 1978 season.
Since then, Steadman Shealy (1979), Jay Barker (1992), Greg McElroy (2009) and McCarron (2011) all started and won national title games for the Crimson Tide without throwing a touchdown pass.
McCarron broke the school record for career touchdown passes with his third Monday night.
Nose guard Jesse Williams' role as a goal-line fullback expanded a bit Monday when we was called on for a lead block on a rush from the 6-yard line. Williams missed a block on star Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, but Eddie Lacy was able to pick up 5 yards to the Notre Dame 1, anyway. A play later, to begin the second quarter, Williams made his block and T.J. Yeldon scored behind him.
One of the Alabama buses had mechanical problems coming from the team hotel to Sun Life Stadium, was late arriving and its riders had to walk a short distance to the stadium. It was not among the primary player buses and was carrying mostly support staff.
The announced crowd was 80,120 for a new Sun Life Stadium record. ... Reports that Alabama coach Nick Saban had ESPN access removed from players' hotel room TVs during game week were untrue, according to a UA spokesperson. ... An informal poll of Tidesports.com Twitter fans submitted the following unconfirmed celebrity sightings: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Boston Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino, actor Vince Vaughn, musician Jon Bon Jovi and former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Doug Flutie. ... Alabama game captains were seniors Jones, Chance Warmack and Damion Square. ... The Zac Brown Band handled the pregame National Anthem.
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Reach Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0196.