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Monday Morning QB: Mac Jones continues to rewrite record books

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Alabama is once again headed to college football’s biggest stage following its 31-14 victory over Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl. With the win, the Crimson Tide advances to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game where it will take on Ohio State on Jan. 11 in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Before we change gears into national championship mode, let’s break down what went right and what went wrong during the Tide’s Rose Bowl win. Welcome back to Monday Morning Quarterback where we revisit key sequences, evaluate players and analyze trends in Alabama’s performance.

GOOD: Mac Jones’ quiet assault of the record books 

No one has ever had a season at Alabama like the one Mac Jones is experiencing right now, not even Tua Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts, the two current NFL quarterbacks he sat being earlier in his career. After throwing for 297 yards against Notre Dame, Jones now has 4,036 passing yards on the season, making him the first Tide quarterback to break the 4,000-yard mark in a single year.

Jones quietly picked apart Notre Dame’s defense, completing 25 of 30 passes while throwing four touchdowns and registering a 210.5 quarterback efficiency rating. It marked the seventh time he’s passed for four or more touchdowns, the sixth time he recorded a passer rating of 200.0 or higher and the fourth time he completed 80 percent or more of his passes in a game this season. Jones’ 83.3 completion rate against the Irish is his second-highest of the season, trailing only the 87.5 percent (28 of 32) he tallied against Ole Miss.

Through 12 games, Jones has a 203.03 passer efficiency rating and is on pace to break former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow’s NCAA single-season record of 201.96 set last year. The Alabama quarterback’s current 77 percent completion rate tops former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy’s single-season mark of 76.7 percent set in 2008.

Those stats are even more impressive, considering Jones exclusively faced SEC teams before going up against solid Notre Dame defense in the Rose Bowl.

Tuesday will reveal whether or not Jones will add a Heisman Trophy to his stellar year. However, regardless of the award’s voting, he’s already put together one of the best seasons in college football history.

BAD: Chris Owens’ pass blocking 

Filling in for perhaps the nation’s best center is a tall order. And, for the most part, Chris Owens proved to be a capable replacement for injured Landon Dickerson during last weekend’s Rose Bowl. Even without the heart and soul of its offensive line, Alabama managed 437 yards and 31 points against a sturdy Notre Dame defense. Owens played a part in that, but the redshirt senior still has some room for improvement moving forward.

Owens recorded a team-worst 27.9 pass-blocking grade, allowing two quarterback hurries over 35 pass-blocking snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. That didn’t affect Alabama too much as Notre Dame brought down Jones just once on the afternoon. However, Owens will need to do better against an Ohio State front that made life difficult for Clemson during the Sugar Bowl.

Different: The location 

A meeting between Alabama and Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl is a college football traditionalist’s dream. Although, this year’s venue served as a stark contrast to the matchup’s classic appeal. Instead of kicking off in picturesque Pasadena, Calif., this year’s Rose Bowl was held nearly 1,500 miles east in a cold and rainy Arlington, Texas as the game was moved due to California’s restrictions on large public gatherings amid the pandemic.

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Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones (10) avoids pressure during the Rose Bowl. Photo | Getty Images
Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones (10) avoids pressure during the Rose Bowl. Photo | Getty Images