Roman Harper, SEC Nation Crew Lay Out Expectations For Alabama in 2020

Tyler Martin

Redshirt-junior Mac Jones was officially named the starting quarterback at the University of Alabama this week, and with the season-opener against Missouri just two days away, the expectations continue to grow.

Former Vanderbilt signal caller, now turned broadcaster with the SEC Network, Jordan Rodgers believes Jones is the key to the Crimson Tide's success on the offensive side of the ball this season, and one of the best quarterbacks in the entire league. 

“I think Mac is a top-three quarterback in this league," Rodgers told BamaCentral. "I love watching the guy because there’s a couple of things you can’t teach. You can’t teach a competitive spirit. Joe Burrow had that in spades more than anybody. You also can’t teach a short memory. I think that’s something that’s really important for a quarterback and Mac Jones last year made a few mistakes but it never affected him. And that’s something that you see with a lot of guys that are even at the top of the game they throw a pick, they have three or four incompletions in a row and that affects them for a while and they have to do something to get out of it. He doesn’t have that problem. The interception, the mistakes at Auburn? He didn’t blink. He came back on the field and started firing again. I love that because he’s got some ability that you can’t coach. 

"And then again, the system that he’s in. They do a great job of getting the guys ball in space. I mean, Jaylen Waddle averaged 12 yards after reception last year. I mean, 12 freaking yards after the catch on average so get that guy the ball in space and he was able to do good things. DeVonta Smith as well. But I think the real kicker is he’s set up for success is they can run the football as well. Najee Harris — one of the best in the conference, in the country. But again, don’t sleep on Mac Jones. I think he’s got the intangibles that aren’t — I mean, he does have good arm strength — but I mean the stuff that you don’t see on paper. Not his height and his weight, not how far he throws the ball. His leadership, his coach-ability, his resilience and his short memory. 

"Those are things that when adversity hits — and adversity’s gonna hit this year. Alabama’s not gonna roll through everybody. Are they the best team in the SEC right now? Yeah, but it’s a 10-game SEC schedule. There’s gonna be bumps in the road and he’s the type of quarterback that can help them weather that so I love Mac, I think he’s a top-three guy in this league and I think he’s gonna have a big year."

Former Alabama and New Orleans Saints great, defensive back Roman Harper is joining Rodgers on SEC Nation, the network's premier pre-game show, this season as he does a full deep-dive into the sports media world. 

Harper shared what led him into this career path after he retired from the game of football. 

“Somebody always told me that I was pretty good at interviews and that I would probably be a good media person," Harper told BamaCentral. "I was always told by Greg Williams and everybody else with the Saints that the media is the enemy. You didn’t want to join the enemy. And I looked up and lo and behold a lot of my former teammates were starting to make that transition over and I wanted to try and figure out what I wanted to do once I was done playing football and really just figure it all out and started to slowly dip my toe in the water and I really enjoyed it and it continued to allow me to be around the game and continue to just try and be the best version of myself — Roman Harper as an analyst —and this opportunity arrived and I guess I did fairly well. I’m here now and I’m really excited to be a part of the team so that’s kind of just how that whole thing evolved. It wasn’t like it was a goal or plan of mine. I don’t really plan like that with my life, I kind of just live my life and this was just the next chapter in it."

While Rodgers hit on Jones and the Crimson Tide's offense, Harper stated that the secondary, and overall defense, is vital for Alabama's chances to get back to the College Football Playoff.

“When it comes to Alabama’s secondary, I really like their corners," Harper said. "I think they’ll be just fine but the biggest thing is safety. Who is actually going to line up at safety for them? I know they got the young guys battling — I think one guy’s name is Battle himself — so that has always been the question mark. Alabama has always been known to have at least one star-studded safety or one NFL-ready guy and this is the first time I’ve seen Alabama where you don’t know exactly who that guy is. We don’t worry about the talent level in the secondary. We know Nick Saban, that’s his baby. He’s the one that’s really underneath the secondary coaching and he’s going to have his guys ready but who is going to be the one that’s going to step up and play? When you play safety, you are the quarterback of the defense. You have to be able to get communication on point, you have to be able to relay it from one corner to the other corner and everybody has to be on the same page because if you mess up one coverage, that’s a touchdown. The quickest way to lose a game is through the air and over the top and the secondary problems, we saw that arrive in big moments last year — especially against LSU. Having too many guys on the field against Auburn, all these other things, that goes along with the secondary. 

"And also missing Dylan Moses last year, you had true freshmen playing linebacker so the secondary had to do all the communication so I want to see how this whole thing plays out and the defense for the Alabama team is going to have to be the reason why they win or not in spite of them winning.”

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