Alabama notebook

Alabama’s Barrett Jones wins third title at third position

 
WEB VOTE Who is the greatest college football coach today?

A1fernandez@miamiherald.com

Alabama center Barrett Jones accomplished a rare national championship trifecta Monday night.

Jones made his 50th career start for Alabama and secured his third national title Monday night, and did so playing a different position on the Crimson Tide’s offensive line during each of those championship seasons.

Jones started 10 games at left tackle during Alabama’s national championship run last season and started all 14 games of his 2009 redshirt freshman season at right guard.

His championship run at center could have been derailed after spraining his left ankle in last month’s Southeastern Conference Championship Game against Georgia.

The three-time All-American not only played, but was his typical dominant self against a Fighting Irish defense that entered the title game ranked No. 1 nationally in scoring defense.

“I think I’ve had different favorite parts about playing each position,” Jones said. “Tackle was kind of an island, and you just kind of had to learn how to appreciate that. But I really enjoy the mental part of center. I like how I can control the offense and kind of control what the line is doing and that portion of center.”

Jones received a cortisone injection before the game and was cleared to play and anchor an Alabama offense that scored a pair of rushing touchdowns by the start of the second quarter to build an early 21-0 lead that ballooned to 28-0 by halftime.

With Jones (6-5, 302 pounds) leading the way, Alabama running backs found plenty of open spaces up the middle in the first half. The Tide amassed 202 total yards including 90 rushing during the first quarter. On its opening drive, Eddie Lacy broke through the middle behind Jones and scampered 20 yards to the end zone.

Lacy and T.J. Yeldon each scored touchdowns in the first half, and Lacy had 96 yards. Lacy also caught an 11-yard touchdown pass.

Notre Dame entered the game having allowed only two rushing touchdowns all season.

The passing game also flourished.

Quarterback AJ McCarron benefitted from solid pass protection, throwing for two touchdowns and 156 yards in the first half.

Jones’ play was everything Alabama could have hoped for after the 2011 Outland Trophy winner had to keep his foot immobilized for weeks before resuming practice last week before the team’s arrival in Miami.

Jones, a 4.0 student, became the first Alabama player to win the Campbell Award, known as college football’s Academic Heisman.

HAPPY HA HA

Alabama defensive back Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix hasn’t just stood out this season for his nickname of Ha Ha.

Followers of Florida high school football likely remember Clinton-Dix being one of the state’s top prospects two years ago. Clinton-Dix, a graduate of Orlando Dr. Phillips, was an integral part of the Tide’s secondary this season entering the game with four interceptions.

Clinton-Dix earned his nickname for his fun-loving, big smiling personality, and Alabama listed him with it on its roster. He came up with his fifth interception of the season to thwart Notre Dame’s opening drive of the second half. Clinton-Dix made an acrobatic catch of a tipped pass and kept one foot inbounds to give Alabama the ball at its own 3-yard line.

Tide dominance

Alabama’s 28-point halftime lead tied for the second largest in BCS Championship Game history with Southern California’s 38-10 halftime lead over Oklahoma in the 2005 Orange Bowl. The record was set by the University of Miami against Nebraska in the 2002 Rose Bowl when the Hurricanes led 34-0 at the half.

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