FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Alabama won’t have Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback on Saturday so they will turn to redshirt sophomore Mac Jones.
Tagovailoa injured his ankle in Saturday night’s victory over Tennessee. Jones has played in six games this season. He has completed 20 of 32 passes for 237 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
Arkansas defensive coordinator John Chavis still expects Alabama to be a very dangerous offense with Jones in the game.
“I think we will see…they’re not gonna completely change their scheme,” Chavis said. “They’re gonna let him do what he does well. The thing of it is there’s not enough tape out there to know exactly what that is. But I’m sure they’ve been running the same plays in practice and I think he can obviously he’s at Alabama and he’s the backup because he’s a good player. There’s no question about that.
“I don’t know that they will change a lot. They may lean on the run a little bit more. You never know. They’ve got three or four great tailbacks. We’ll see. We’ve got to be ready for it all. There’s no doubt about that. Even though they lost a really good player there’s a quality guy there ready to take his spot.”
In recent years Alabama has moved away from having a quarterback who just manages the game to one who is among the elite at his position in the nation. Chavis has seen the change in that regard at Alabama.
“You may remember me saying this last year,” Chavis said. “Talent wise last year their offense was the best I’ve ever been on the field with. They’ve got great speed at wide receiver, they’ve got great speed at tailback, they’re very good up front and they had one of the better quarterbacks in the country.
“So why not use them? They’ve made that decision to use them and they’ve been successful that way. It gives fans something to cheer about. Everybody wants to see you throw the football and score all those touchdowns. They’ve been able to do that and it’s just what they do.”
Arkansas coach Chad Morris also talked about what he expects from the Tide minus Tagovailoa.
“Well, first of all there’s not many deficiencies on that football team,” Morris said. “And when you look at Mac Jones came in the other night and they’ll do a great job of preparing a plan for him, to what he can execute and execute at a high level. They have a great supporting cast around him. A wide receiver corps that you can look all you want and there’s not many deficiencies. The speed they have and obviously being able to run the ball with Harris is very effective. So Mac’s gonna, they’ll have a plan for him. But as far as deficiencies and looking, I mean you’re a quarterback at Alabama, and a program of that caliber you’re a really good football player. But he was playing behind a really good one too.”
Jones was 6 of 11 passing for 72 yards in the 35-13 win over the Vols. As far as the Auburn game, there was some things Chavis liked, but certainly not all of it.
“The outcome is really very disappointing,” Chavis said. “We had moments in the game I’m really, really proud of our unit. We gave them some momentum early in the game. We didn’t fit a speed sweep. We’re so close. If we just have one guy, my linebacker that if he fits it correctly, I don’t know how many times we’ve repped that particular sweep in practice, but if we get a fit it’s a four-yard, two-yard, three-yard gain. But we didn’t so it’s a long run. They score a touchdown.
“After that we came back for about 35 or 40 minutes of the game I think we played as well as we could. Then we get in a situation where we bust an adjustment communicating. It’s another touchdown…uncontested. If we line up and we do what we’re supposed to and they beat you they beat you. But we didn’t give ourselves a chance on that play. They got some momentum after that. They came back on the field real quickly and hit another touchdown. You know the outcome of that.”
The kickoff is set for 6 p.m. Saturday night in Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. The game will be televised on ESPN.