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Alabama vs Western Carolina: Preview

By Andrew Edwards

Staff Writer 

Before we get into the preview for the week, I think it’s appropriate to say a few words about Tua Tagovailoa and everything he meant to the Alabama Football program. 

No matter who you’re a fan of, it’s difficult to deny that Tagovailoa has a special talent that many people feel will manifest into a top five pick in the NFL draft. Whether it was special moments like 2ndand 26, his incredible accuracy or the warrior mentality he played with, Tagovailoa showed the world that the Crimson Tide was able to produce talent at the quarterback position other than the typical ‘game manager’. 

With his latest hip injury, Tagovailoa will end his Alabama career a sour note, but that shouldn’t take away everything that he’s brought to the football program up until this point. Put aside the ‘what could have beens’ when it comes to Tagovailoa’s Alabama career and appreciate it for what it was – a joy and spectacle to behold. 

Alabama now must move ahead and finish their season with Mac Jones as the starting QB. We’ve seen him play a decent amount this year, specifically in the middle of the season against Tennessee and Arkansas. 

Jones has played well, completing 45 of 65 passes on the year for 566 yards, four touchdowns and one INT – but this is the first time that the team has officially become his.

While he did start against Arkansas, most knew that Tagovailoa was waiting in the wings, ready to take his position back. Now, it’s all on him. 

Granted, Jones won’t be tested too heavily this weekend as he plays FCS opponent Western Carolina (3-7). Alabama could field Katy Perry’s left shark at QB and they would win, but it will be interesting to see if Steve Sarkisian opens up the playbook a little bit more for Mac. 

Western Carolina comes into this game second to last in the southern conference standings and will essentially have to rely on Alabama mistakes to even remotely stay in the game. 

Player to Watch: Literally every Alabama starter 

The injury bug took a huge toll against the Crimson Tide last weekend and the last thing they need is for more players down before the Iron Bowl. The game plan will be simple: Get a big lead, get the starters out, and get ready for Auburn.

Key Matchup: Tuscaloosa’s traffic lights vs the general public 

McFarland Blvd in Tuscaloosa is notorious for having fast changing stop lights on gameday, which keeps the traffic at a near standstill. It will be interesting to see if the general public can keep their cool and not use foul language out of frustration as they come in and out of the city. After all, that is unsportsmanlike conduct.