Get ready for a summer of quarterback talk. It’s coming and for good reason.
Alabama’s quarterback situation, the one that has the SEC’s returning Offensive Player of the year, Jalen Hurts, and the newcomer Tua Tagovailoa wowing the fan base with their respective talents, is only going to gain steam locally and nationally.
Put simply, this is the best quarterback situation Alabama’s had in Nick Saban’s 11th seasons in Tuscaloosa. Hurts is talented and developing by the day, and Tagovailoa is a quick-release and accurate thrower who made a name for himself during Saturday’s A-Day spring game.
As Saban astutely pointed out after the game, statistics can be misleading. But since Saturday’s were the only ones released during the spring, they will garner everyone’s attention.
Hurts completed 16 of 25 passes for 301 yards and led the game-winning two-minute drive that set up JK Scott’s winning 30-yard field goal. He threw for two touchdowns and one interception, although it wasn’t immediately clear whose fault the interception, which occurred in the end zone, was.
Tagovailoa was impressive as well, throwing for 313 yards and three touchdowns on 17 of 29 passing. He also had an interception returned for a touchdown.
For the sake of context, all of Hurts’ drives came against the first-rep chart defense. All but two of Tagovailoa’s drives came against the second-rep chart defense.
Signs of growth
Hurts looked more comfortable in the pocket than he did a season ago, although there were times he was slow to get to his second read and took off running. He said it’s a work in progress.
“I think that comes from the maturity part of it,” Hurts said. “The more reps you get, the older you are, the more comfortable you get. That’s with anything.
“Obviously you can’t see coverages and safety activation if you’re looking at the rush. That’s kind of the keys to passing the ball, seeing what’s going on in the back end.”
Likewise, Hurts complimented the true freshman Tagovailoa.
“It ain’t like I’m surprised he had a positive day,” Hurts said. “I expect all of the guys in the quarterback room to have a good day. Today, he did a good job.”
The two quarterbacks combined to be sacked nine times (Hurts was sacked seven times, Tagovailoa twice).
Saban, who led off his press conference saying Alabama is not an elite team, was pleased with aspects of the passing game.
“There was a lot of production,” he said. “I think all of our quarterbacks are better passers than they were a year ago, first-, second-, and third-team guys. So that’s encouraging.”
Big plays in the passing game
The production didn’t come from quick screen passes or jet sweeps either. Hurts completed six passes of more than 15 yards, including connections of 60, 65, 50, 21, 37 and 22. Tagovailoa completed nine of more than 15 yards, including completions of 23, 15, 47, 25, 38, 29, 34, 20 and 19.
While not a banner day for the Crimson Tide’s secondary, it did indicate that it’s a new day with the Alabama passing game. UA now has two quarterbacks who can play winning football.
Reach Aaron Suttles at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.