Sport Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa and Alabama's Fascinating Offseason Quarterback Quandary

02:40  11 january  2018
02:40  11 january  2018 Source:   Sports Illustrated

Jalen Hurts May Not Be the Flashiest QB, but He's a Vital and Overlooked Part of Alabama's Offense

  Jalen Hurts May Not Be the Flashiest QB, but He's a Vital and Overlooked Part of Alabama's Offense As Alabama’s starting quarterback over the past two seasons, Jalen Hurts has a record of 25–2. As Alabama’s starting quarterback over the past two seasons, Jalen Hurts has a record of 25–2. On Monday night, he became the first quarterback this century to lead his team to the national title game in each of his first two seasons. In Alabama’s 24–6 win over Clemson, the reigning champion, Hurts completed 66% of his passes for 120 yards, committing not a single turnover—and yet somehow, as always, he seemed an afterthought.

Jalen Hurts , Tua Tagovailoa and Alabama ' s Fascinating Offseason Quarterback Quandary . Tua Tagovailoa 's insertion into the national championship game brought Alabama another title and a delicate quarterback situation heading into spring practice.

Jalen Hurts is Alabama ' s starting quarterback . Tua Tagovailoa , the fourth-highest-rated QB and No. 38 overall prospect in the 2017 class, immediately stole the spotlight.

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Two ex-quarterbacks who had led their college teams to national titles began signaling just as overtime began in Monday’s national title game. New Nebraska coach Scott Frost, in town to collect the Eddie Robinson Award for his work at UCF, stood near the sideline as Alabama and Georgia rolled toward their epic finish. Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow had to stay near the SEC Network set so he could jump on the air when the game ended.

A benched Jalen Hurts was the first to congratulate new QB Tua Tagovailoa on his TD pass

  A benched Jalen Hurts was the first to congratulate new QB Tua Tagovailoa on his TD pass Classy gesture.

Content As Jalen Hurts ' s Backup, Tua Tagovailoa Remains a Subject of Alabama Fascination . It is the quality of those completions that have contributed to Tagovailoa ’ s popularity. If the quarterback thing doesn’t work out for Tagovailoa , he may have a fallback.

Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts will both be battling to be the 2018 Alabama starting quarterback . When you’re Alabama , you have the option of replacing your four-star quarterback for a five-star quarterback .

They couldn’t hear one another, so Frost used a silent count protocol. He mimicked throwing with his left hand. The message? That lefty out there for Alabama is something. Tebow, the last southpaw quarterback to win a national title, smiled and nodded. Absolutely.

And that was before Tua Tagovailoa threw perhaps the most important pass in Alabama’s storied football history. Now, his performance has the entire sport buzzing. At the American Football Coaches Association convention in Charlotte, coaches from schools across the country debated in hallways and on barstools whether they would have had the guts to pull a quarterback who had gone 25–2 as a starter (Jalen Hurts) for a true freshman who had only gotten mop-up duty all season. One veteran Power 5 head coach summed it up best: Down 13–0 at halftime of the national title game with an offense that felt barely functional, Alabama coach Nick Saban had to try something. But since that move paid off in the form of a miracle finish and a national title, it has raised some significant questions.

Nick Saban explains decision to make QB switch at halftime

  Nick Saban explains decision to make QB switch at halftime Nick Saban has a new quarterback on his hands. Saban made the decision to bench Jalen Hurts at halftime and put in true freshman Tua Tagovailoa, and it made all the difference. Nick Saban has a new quarterback on his hands.

In the second half of Monday’ s national championship game, Alabama head coach Nick Saban made the switch to backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa . Jalen Hurts finished the first half with 21 passing yards, and Alabama trailed Georgia 13-0.

Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts didn't remove himself from the Tide' s postgame celebrations. His team had won, and the guy who had backed him up all season , Tua Tagovailoa , was the reason. MORE: Alabama one of several teams with QB battles upcoming.

• Is Tagovailoa unquestionably Alabama’s starting quarterback going forward?

• If he is, what does Hurts do now? Does he find another school or try to win back the job at Alabama?

• Had Tagovailoa not played Monday, would he be the one on transfer watch right now?

Saban didn’t answer either question the morning after the victory. “Look, we have two good quarterbacks on our team, no doubt,” Saban said. “Both of them made a great contribution to the success of the team this year. I think that we haven’t really made a decision about that. I don’t think it’s imperative that we make one right now. We’ve got two fine young men who really respect each other and have worked hard to help each other all year long. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue to do that in the future.”

Given the politics of the position and the demand for effective quarterbacks at other schools, that probably isn’t possible. Hurts has had his struggles throwing the ball against the best defenses Alabama has played the past two seasons, but he still has outperformed most of the quarterbacks in the country. Remember, this is still a guy who led his team to the fourth-quarter touchdown it absolutely needed in the national title game as a true freshman. (Unfortunately for Hurts, Deshaun Watson was the quarterback on the other sideline, and he still had time.) Hurts still has a redshirt year, and he could start for two seasons at a new school after sitting out 2018.

Five reasons why Alabama won the Nat'l Championship Game

  Five reasons why Alabama won the Nat'l Championship Game The Alabama Crimson Tide won the national title in dramatic fashion with a 26-23 overtime win over the Georgia Bulldogs on Monday night. A gutsy quarterback change was at the heart of their victory. It was a classic game filled with talent and drama on both sides, and Alabama staged a memorable second half comeback to take home the hardware.Here’s a look at five reasons why the Crimson Tide were able to come back and win the championship.1.

Trailing 13-0 at halftime, Alabama made a decision to bench starting quarterback Jalen Hurts for true freshman Tua Tagovailoa . It paid off . Tagovailoa led the Crimson Tide to its fifth national title in the past nine years.

The Jalen Hurts - Tua Tagovailoa quarterback battle. The difference between Lane Kiffin' s offense and Brian Daboll' s . Break down the quarterback situation for Alabama . " Jalen Hurts took us to the national

Plus, Hurts won even more fans with the grace with which he handled the benching on Monday. A lot of players would have sulked after getting yanked in the national title game. Hurts was the first person off the sideline to congratulate Tagovailoa on the first of his three touchdown passes. What did Hurts say? “I love you. This is what you were made for,” Hurts recalled after the win. “You were built for this. You worked for this.”

Hurts offered nary a negative word. Instead, he praised his coaches for making the switch that brought Alabama a national title. “We had 30 minutes left,” he said. “For some guys, it was the last 30 minutes of their college careers. Some guys will never play football again. For this team, it was the last 30 minutes we’d ever step on the field with each other. We stepped up, and we made plays, and we ended the game national champions.”

If I want to teach my children how to handle a disappointing situation perfectly, I’ll show them video of the interviews Hurts gave after the game. And any team would be lucky to have Hurts in the locker room. The question is what he does now.

Tua Tagovailoa leads Bama to national title: What you need to know about Alabama's freshman QB

  Tua Tagovailoa leads Bama to national title: What you need to know about Alabama's freshman QB Tua Tagovailoa replaced Jalen Hurts to begin the second half in the College Football Playoff championship for Alabama. Here's what you need to know.Alabama true freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa produced an incredible comeback win for the Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff championship Monday after replacing Jalen Hurts to begin the second half.

In the second half of the National Championship Game, Nick Saban replaced Jalen Hurts with Tua Tagovailoa , and it immediately paid off . Even though Alabama played in Monday’ s National Championship Game, its quarterback position was shaky for most of the 2017 college football season .

Alabama freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa holds the trophy while celebrating with his team after defeating the Georgia Bulldogs in overtime to win the CFP National After trailing 13-0 to Georgia at halftime, Saban replaced two-year starting quarterback Jalen Hurts with freshman Tua Tagovailoa .

It would make the most sense for Hurts to go through spring practice at Alabama and then make a decision then. He’ll have to sit out in the fall anyway if he transfers, so he’d have ample time to learn the playbook and win the job at his next school. Staying for spring practice would allow for a proper competition between Hurts and Tagovailoa. If Tagovailoa wins it, Hurts will face a choice. Does he go elsewhere to start? Or does he stay in Tuscaloosa, where he would only be one unlucky snap away from running the Crimson Tide offense again?

It’s not an exact parallel, but there are similarities between this and the quarterback situation at Ohio State going into 2015. Braxton Miller had missed the 2014 national title run with an injury. J.T. Barrett had filled in spectacularly for 12 games before getting injured. Cardale Jones had led the Buckeyes to wins in the Big Ten title game and the playoff. Miller wound up agreeing to become a receiver (his NFL position) before that season, and the Buckeyes toggled between Jones and Barrett in a 12–1 campaign that ultimately was a disappointment because it didn’t end with a title of any kind.

While Hurts probably could become an NFL player at another position, it’s difficult to imagine him accepting a position switch. Staying at quarterback is far more likely. So if Tagovailoa won the job, Hurts would have to choose starting elsewhere in 2019 or backing up the sophomore at Alabama. Would the Houston-area native head back to his home state and play in the Big 12? He’d fit well in the offenses at Texas and TCU. If he were to watch video of Quinton Flowers playing for Willie Taggart at South Florida, he might be intrigued by the idea of playing in that offense for Taggart at Florida State.

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Alabama freshman backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa led the team to the win, sparking a comeback after being inserted into the game in the second half. After the game, starting quarterback Jalen Hurts , who was benched, had only positive things to say about Tagovailoa and his team' s

Though Tagovailoa was Jalen Hurts ' backup this season , he still got a decent amount of playing time because of Alabama ' s large margin of victories. How Tua Tagovailoa went from Hawaiian star to backup quarterback to Alabama ' s national championship hero.

Had Tagovailoa not played Monday, he might have been the one seeking transfer options. He had expected to play some in the Sugar Bowl, but that playing time never materialized as the Tide defense strangled Clemson’s offense and Bama’s offense remained relatively conservative. Had Alabama stuck with Hurts against Georgia even though the offense wasn’t working, that might have been taken as a sign that Tagovailoa would have been better off elsewhere. Instead, he got a chance to show everything he could do. Alabama’s offense opened up with a devastating vertical passing game for which the Bulldogs didn’t seem prepared. And while Hurts is the superior runner, Tagovailoa showed his wheels are plenty dangerous on this incredible third-and-seven scramble that may have ultimately saved Alabama’s title chances.

Going forward, the idea of a Tagovailoa-led offense that features recruiting classmates Najee Harris (tailback), DeVonta Smith (receiver), Henry Ruggs III (receiver), Jerry Jeudy (receiver) and Alex Leatherwood (offensive tackle) seems thrilling. After Monday’s win, Tagovailoa said that group had prepared for just such a moment.

“Us freshmen, we go in with the ones sometimes,” he said. “We trade reps with the ones. We go in with the twos. And I think preparation leading up to this point has been the key thing with our offensive coaches helping us throughout the process. And just building the trust within each other, from the O-line to the receivers creating a bond with each other. I think that’s helped us build confidence coming into this game to where, if you’ve got to go in, if your number’s called, then you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to give the team the best placement—or how should I say this? To give the team the best opportunity to win the game.”

If Tagovailoa continues to play the way he did Monday, he’ll be the one who gives the Tide the best chance to win. And even though Saban would love to hang on to Hurts, Tagovailoa’s rise might mean some other program is going to be very lucky to welcome a Texas-bred quarterback with a national championship ring and an attitude we all would do well to emulate.

Clemson QB Zerrick Cooper announces decision to transfer .
Clemson's depth chart at the quarterback position will look slightly different next season, as redshirt freshman Zerrick Cooper announced Friday that he's decided to transfer away from the program. Clemson confirmed the announcement via Twitter:"Thank you to Coach Swinney, the Clemson staff & the best fans in college football for an incredible two years."It has been a pleasure, 6️⃣. We wish for nothing but great success for Zerrick Cooper as he moves on from #Clemson.Forever a Tiger. Forever #ALLIN#ClemsonFamilypic.twitter.

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