Six hours, 36 minutes and 26 seconds have passed since Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts last threw an interception, on a game clock that is.
The Iron Bowl remains the last time Hurts was picked off. It was during the second quarter and actually happened twice. He has been in the clear ever since November.
Alabama has not turned the ball over this season through three games.
“Obviously, you don’t go into a game saying, ‘We can spare a pick. We can spare a fumble,’” Hurts said. “Or none of that. We want to be protective of the ball, and we have to do a good job of continuing to do that.”
But Vanderbilt also does a good job defending the ball. The Commodores have intercepted five passes this season, the fifth-highest mark in the nation.
Granted, the Crimson Tide has also notched five turnovers that way. There are 10 total schools that have done so. Central Michigan leads with nine.
Bigger picture: Vanderbilt has the nation’s best pass defense, statistically, averaging 95.3 yards per game.
“They’ve done an outstanding job,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “I mean, when you give up 95 passing that’s pretty good, regardless of what the competition is.”
The Crimson Tide was held close to that number during its season opener. Florida State limited Alabama to just 96 receiving yards. The past two games, Alabama has averaged 220 yards through the air.
Vanderbilt’s opponents so far have only been able to complete 45 percent of their passes for 286 yards. Between Hurts and freshman Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama has hit 65 percent of its targets for 536 yards.
“You have elite athletes going against elite athletes,” Alabama offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman said. “They’re trying to get a sack, and we’re trying to protect from a sack. We’re always trying to give Jalen, or whoever the quarterback is, time to throw. It’s a battle while it’s going on.”
Again, Hurts has not been intercepted this season. But he was nine times last year.
Saban has seen Hurts’ production improve each time he has stepped on the field this season, especially his efficiency. That was evident in his 78-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Calvin Ridley against Colorado State. It was flawless. More importantly, it was his longest pass to go for a score – ever.
“He would be the first to tell you that there are things that he can work on, like every player on our team,” Saban said. “We’re certainly going to try to help him do that so that he can continue to develop and progress and be even more efficient in what he does.”
And with that comes the stereotypical motto: One game at a time.
From Week 1 to Week 2, Hurts added more than 30 passing yards to his final stats. Then, this past weekend, he nearly doubled his number.
Now, the 6-foot-2, 218-pound sophomore looks to be the first quarterback Vanderbilt hasn’t defeated.
“Like any good defense in this country, they’re it, and they have it all,” Hurts said. “So, we’re up for the challenge.”