It seems silly to have to write this: Jalen Hurts is Alabama’s starting quarterback.
Hurts was both the SEC’s freshman and offensive player of the year in 2016 as he led the Crimson Tide to a national runner-up finish. He threw for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns while also gaining 954 yards and scoring 13 times on the ground. This was all as a true freshman.
Sure, he struggled in the College Football Playoff against top-notch defenses as a passer. Again, he was a true freshman. He had a fantastic season, but now the Tide, like always, brought in another highly-rated recruit at the position. His name is Tua Tagovailoa, and he performed quite well during Saturday’s spring game at Bryant Denny Stadium.
Tagovailoa, a lefty from Hawaii, enrolled early and has impressed throughout spring ball. That carried over to A-Day as he led touchdown drives on his first two series and finished the day with 313 yards, three touchdowns (one on a wacky deflection) and an interception (which was returned for a touchdown on an awesome play by Terrell Hall) while working with both the first and second-team offenses.
Tagovailoa showed flashes of what made him such a highly sought-after recruit, but that doesn’t mean he is just going to leapfrog Hurts on the depth chart. This was just an exhibition, after all, but don’t think that thought didn’t cross the minds of some of the 74,326 in attendance in Tuscaloosa as Tagovailoa dropped in quite a few gorgeous passes against the second-string defense.
Tide head coach Nick Saban has said throughout the spring that the staff’s main focus with Hurts was to help him improve from the pocket. It showed during the game with Hurts connecting on quite a few nice deep balls and finishing the afternoon with 301 yards, two scores and an INT while facing the top defensive unit. After the game, Saban seemed pleased with what he’s seen from the soon-to-be sophomore.
Saban on Hurts' passing: "I think it was much better. I thought his ability to stand in the pocket & be a pocket passer was much improved."
— Alex Byington (@abyingtonTD) April 22, 2017
Even if Tagovailoa — who wasn’t immune to some freshman mistakes — stole the show, Hurts played well, too.
And if you think Saban and his staff (or any staff across the country, for that matter) will overreact from a spring game performance, you’re sorely mistaken, no matter how impressive it may have been. It could be different without a player of Hurts’ caliber ahead of Tagovailoa, but for now, please cool any quarterback controversy chatter — at least until preseason practice.
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