Barrett Jones In New Spot For Tide

One of the observations about Alabama's offense in 2012 is having a new offensive coordinator in Doug Nussmeier, who did not call the plays in his previous job at Washington. That's because the head coach, Steve Sarkisian, one of football's offensive masterminds, called his own plays.

Nussmeier will be calling the plays for Alabama this year. But the initial call is only part of the process. When the offense goes to the line of scrimmage, it is the responsibility of the center to make a quick read of the defensive set-up and call the blocking assignments. Meanwhile, the quarterback is looking at the defense and he may elect to change the play.

Alabama has two outstanding players making those calls at the line of scrimmage. The quarterback, A.J. McCarron, is going into his second year as starter. The center, Barrett Jones, is starting for the fourth year. He's a returning All-America and 2011 winner of the Outland Trophy as the nation's best offensive lineman.

But while McCarron has experience in his at-the-line checks, the audibles, Jones is in a new position. He was a two-year starter at right guard before moving to left tackle last season. Now he's the center, responsible for the quick and critical call at the line.

Jones moved to center this year after William Vlachos, a three-year starter at the critical position, graduated.

Jones, 6-5, 302, certainly has the mental capacity for the task. He's an Academic All-America, a straight A student who already has his degree in accounting and is working on his MBA. And he has confidence in his ability.

He said making those calls has not been a difficult adjustment. "Honestly, not really," he said. "Vlachos used to kid me that I would make the calls anyway, even when it wasn't my job. Now it actually is my job so I get to do it anyways. But no, that wasn't really that tough for me."

Jones and McCarron are working well together, Jones said.

"A lot of times we talk about what we're seeing, whether I'm helping him learn something about the defense," Jones said. "He's really starting to understand why I'm making my calls and he's starting to understand more about fronts and defense in general. It's kind of the next step for a quarterback. You want to learn coverages and then you want to learn what the whole defense is doing."

Jones said he expects "great things" from McCarron this year.

"I think he's going to do a really good job," Jones said. "I thjink we're putting more on him this year, giving him more responsibility at the line of scrimage, letting him make more decisions and calls at the line. I expecdt him to handle that really well.

"He's responded well so far. I just think he's really started to handle that kind of things, especially when I have my head down a lot on silent count. That's something he's going to have to do and I think he's ready for it."

The test of the new battery is a big one as Alabama heads to Arlington, Texas, Saturday to take on the Michigan Wolverines in a battle of top ten teams.

"I think we're just looking forward to getting on the field," Jones said. "We've been hitting each other for a long time. We're excited about our first game, no matter who it's against. I definitely think playing Michigan has maybe added a little extra excitement, just because they are a name-brand opponent, an opponent we have a lot of respect for. We're certainly excited offensive line-wise. We know we have a chance to have a good offensive line this year. This is the first step in that direction."

Jones has played against Big Ten teams and said he knows what to expect.

"One thing you see out of a lot of defenses is they are very disciplined," Jones said. "That's something I've noticed about the Big Ten defenses we've played. They know their system and they run it really well. That's the same with Michigan. What they do, they do extremely well."

The Tide senior said it seems as though the pre-season "on one hand, it's flown by, and on the other hand, I'm just ready for it to get here. This last week feels like it's been going real slow."

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