“Well, I hope he doesn’t play like he played in that game,” Smart said Sunday. What Jones did in his one start was complete 12 of 17 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Buckeyes to a 59-0 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. The 6-5, 250-pound Jones was the MVP of the game.
Alabama and Ohio State will play in the Sugar Bowl in the Louisiana Superdome at 7:30 p.m. CST Thursday. Even more than the Sugar Bowl, though, the game is a semifinal game in the inaugural College Football Playoff. The winner advances to the national championship game in Dallas on Jan. 12.
Both teams are 12-1. The Crimson Tide is the number one seed in the playoff, Ohio State number four seed.
ESPN will televise Thursday’s game.
Smart elaborated on the first game performance by Jones. “He did a great job,” Smart said. “Very unflappable. Not affected easily. He does a good job in the pocket. Throws the ball really well. He really threw the deep ball as well in that game.
“Kind of proved himself as a passer. And Wisconsin really challenged the guys outside and forced him to throw it and he did. So what he's been asked to do, he's done. And he's done it at a really high level.
“He's got a lot of good players around him, which makes it easy for a quarterback. When you've got really good players around you, and they manage the game well for him, they do a great job of what they asked him to do in that game he did well.
“The guy's proven to me he's a very quality quarterback.”
Smart said a particularly difficult job for the Tide coaching staff is that they don’t know how Jones will react in certain situations because he hasn’t faced those situations.
Both teams finished their seasons on Dec. 6, winning conference championships. Smart was asked if the extra available practice time between games would be more beneficial to Alabama in preparing for a relatively inexperienced quarterback, or if it would be more advantageous to Jones and Ohion State in preparing for the Bama defense.
“I don’t really know that,” Smart said. “I think it helps both of us. It's who takes advantage of that time better. If you manage that time right, he manages the time better; it could pay off for either one of us. He has a lot of time to watch tape and prepare for our defense. We've got a lot of time to get prepared for them and what they might do.”