Don’t even bother asking. Nick Saban already answered the quarterback question. Without being prompted, too.
Sophomore Tua Tagovailoa will start for Alabama on Saturday against Arkansas State.
“Look, we make all of our decisions here based on winning,” Saban said Monday. “Whoever we feel will give us the best opportunity to go out there and win, that’s who we’re going to play.”
Jalen Hurts will still be used whenever Saban feels the junior, who is 26-2 as a starter, can benefit the team. There’s no specific plan in place right now, nor has Saban considered redshirting Hurts.
Remember: Prior to this season, the NCAA changed its rule where a player can now participate in up to four games without burning his redshirt.
“I don’t know how you can prepare when you pick and choose when you’re going to play players,” Saban said. “I mean, you have to get somebody ready to play in the game. So if you have any suggestions, I’d be glad to listen to them. But I don’t know how you do that.”
It’s also worth mentioning Hurts has said before he’s going to graduate in December — from UA. So don’t start the transfer chatter just yet either.
Both quarterbacks played this past weekend in the season opener against Louisville, which Alabama won 51-14. Tagovailoa started and led six drives. Hurts commanded four drives after entering in the second quarter.
Tagovailoa completed 12 of his 16 passes – 75 percent – for 227 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran five times for 26 yards and a touchdown.
Hurts was 5-of-9 (or 56 percent) for 70 yards with three rushes for 9 yards.
“Honestly,” running back Josh Jacobs said, “if the receivers are getting the ball I know they are happy either way.”
That’s another thing to be careful getting into. People, from what it seems, think Tagovailoa spreads the love more than Hurts since he had two more players catch a pass from him. Tagovailoa had six different receivers. Hurts had four.
“The offense is geared not to a specific player getting the ball, necessarily, on certain plays,” Saban said. “But it’s geared on the quarterback reading what the defense is doing and throwing the ball relative, systematically to where the ball should go relative to what the other team does.”
Yet teammates are saying Tagovailoa specifically is great at sharing the wealth. He’s great at making things happen. The left-hander from Hawaii is great, they say, even when spinning and scrambling in the backfield.
“That’s part of what makes him such a good player,” offensive lineman Jonah Williams said, “is that he has the ability to extend plays.”
Said Jacobs about targeting multiple players: “I think he’s great at what he does.”
And these quotes were just from Monday’s offensive availability. There was even more praise after the game. Much more.
Now that can be talked about because it was the deciding factor.
“I said it at the beginning: who wins the team,” Saban said. “In our opinion, the one player did a little better job of that.”
Reach Terrin Waack at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.