BATON ROUGE, La. — It initially looked like many other deep passes Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has somehow pulled off this season. Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy was in its path, right near the end zone. But so were two LSU defenders.
That ball, chucked up in a rush on a first down, ended up in LSU defensive back Todd Harris Jr.’s hands.
“That was a good play by the DB,” Tagovailoa said after Alabama’s 29-0 win over LSU in Tiger Stadium. “I should have never made that decision. You know, things happen. I was happy for him. That was very good for him.”
The last time Tagovailoa threw a pick was in the national championship game last season, which Alabama also ultimately won.
Because Tagovailoa proved he can bounce back.
Once the sophomore returned to the field Saturday, he completed a 29-yard pass to Jeudy. Then, he found tight end Irv Smith Jr. and sent him a perfect 25-yard pass to score.
“He made that one mistake,” Jeudy said. “But he forgot about it the very next play and was encouraging us to go out there and not worry about it.”
Tagovailoa completed a career-high 25 of his 42 passes for 295 yards and two scores. He also ran for 49 yards on three carries. Basically all of his rushing yards came from his 44-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Remember Tagovailoa is still wearing a right knee brace from a knee injury.
“Once I passed the 30, though, I felt my leg,” Tagovailoa said. “I was going off momentum after that. I think I was galloping, too.”
Said Jeudy: “He was running kind of funny. But he got out there. He ran pretty hard and got that touchdown. So you see that want-to in him.”
UA coach Nick Saban said Tagovailoa has recovered well, so much so that “he doesn’t have a knee injury anymore.”
“He looked like he can run pretty well to me,” Saban said.
So can Damien Harris. The Alabama running back had a game-high 19 carries for 107 yards and a 1-yard touchdown run in the final quarter.
Alabama’s other touchdown was in the opening period. Tagovailoa had a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Henry Ruggs III. It came on Alabama’s second offensive possession, marking the first time this season the Crimson Tide did not score on its opening drive.
“We did have a turnover on a long pass, but I was really, really pleased with the explosive plays we were able to make,” Saban said. “We were able to control the tempo of the game on offense.”
Tagovailoa did come off the field during Alabama’s first offensive series after getting sacked, which wasn’t accounted for because of a false start. He was fine, though, missing just one snap. He got hit in a place that he was able to recover from quickly.
So, Tagovailoa threw his first interception of the season. But many other things happened, too.
“Just a humble guy,” Jeudy said. “Nothing really throws him off his game.”
Reach Terrin Waack at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.