The QB situation in Tuscaloosa will garner plenty of attention this season. Here is some insight on the “competition” involving two talented quarterbacks for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
For the sake of this column, I will refrain from asking or inquiring about input from Alabama head coach Nick Saban in regards to his top two quarterbacks.
Surprisingly, that gets him upset.
Nonetheless, whether he is willing to admit it or not, he has himself an interesting situation (I’m not sure I want to utilize “controversy” in this particular matter) when it comes to his quarterbacks.
Current starter, sophomore Tua Tagovailoa, is fresh off an epic second-half performance in the National Championship game to give Alabama their fifth title since 2009.
During his first collegiate start in week one of this season against Louisville, Tagovailoa was 12-of-16 for 227 yards and two passing touchdowns while also adding another rushing touchdown.
The man he replaced as the starter, junior Jalen Hurts, just so happens to be 26-2 as a starter while at Alabama and a former SEC Offensive Player of the Year and first-team All-SEC member.
So it was not just a matter of beating out the competition. It was a matter of Tagovailoa winning the starting spot over an established winner. But it is amazing how the sport can play itself out on the field.
Going back to that national title game this past January, Hurts was bottled up by the fierce Georgia defense in the first half by just going 3-of-8 for a lackluster 21 yards and while he added 47 yards on the ground, 31 of them came on one play.
To see Saban make the switch to a true freshman quarterback in the biggest game of the season down 13-0 is something that was never even fathomed.
The hard-nosed Saban would NEVER take that risk or at least we thought he wouldn’t. Before you knew it, the precarious decision by Saban not only won Alabama a national championship but it also changed the quarterback rotation in just a matter of two quarters.
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The entire offseason for the Crimson Tide was littered with nothing but questions among questions among more questions about which direction the program would turn to anoint as the starter. The swirling rumors of a possible Hurst transfer also lingered and even with the season underway at this point, the possibility of Hurts departing may not be as preeminent as it could have been early in the offseason but it is still alive and well.
The 2018 season opener was a clear signal that Tagovailoa is the leader of the Crimson Tide offense going forward. He quarterbacked six drives compared to four for Hurts and obviously outplayed him. Just ask the Louisville defense. I shouldn’t omit the performance by Hurts during Alabama’s 51-14 win over Louisville. He was a solid 5-for-9 for 70 yards and Saban has made it well-known that while Hurts is still around, they will devise ways to implement him in the offensive plans with special packages.
Going forward, it may have been the right decision to make to hand the reigns of the offense over to Tagovailoa. While small in stature, he has a command of the game already and can provide an element that Saban has not necessarily had at quarterback during his tenure.
Hurts won a ton of games and had some good moments for the Crimson Tid, however, there is a new kid on the block and it looks like it’s his time.