Jalen Hurts wants to throw you the ball.
Well, maybe not you specifically. But the sophomore quarterback was willing to throw with any wide receiver this offseason, no matter if they were a starter, backup or walk-on. If they were willing to put in extra work to get better, he was all about it.
“I’m not nitpicky who I throw with. If you’re willing to get some work in, we can get some work in,” Hurt said. “It’ll only make the entire team better. Walk-on or not, starter or not, whatever. If you’re trying to get better, I’m 100 percent with that.”
That speaks volume about Hurts, a quarterback so remarkably mature for this station of his life that you sometimes forget he hasn’t been in the program for four years. There is very little “I” with Hurts, more “We” and “Us.”
No matter that, though. Fans want to see an improved passer this season, and Hurts has put the work in, toiling through the offseason and even attending the Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana earlier this summer.
“The goal is to come out and improve every day,” Hurts said. “You improve every day (if) you take a stride, a positive step, that’s all you can ask for, all you want to do. Go out and improve as a team, individually, on every aspect of the game. Improve.”
Improving his timing and accuracy are of importance, and if those improve the intermediate to downfield passing game will take off, too.
Hurts completed nearly 63 percent of his passes as a freshman, and his 23-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio was impressive. However, many of his passes came on short completions that didn’t involve much reading of the defense.
The offensive staff chose to mitigate the risk of playing an inexperienced quarterback by limiting his amount of reads. The goal this season is to open the offense up down the field.
“We wanted to improve his ability to be more efficient, effective, confident passer,” UA head coach Nick Saban said. “I think he’s made tremendous strides in the spring. We’re not allowed to watch a lot of what they do over the summer, but based on his confidence, the poise that he played with out there in practice (Thursday), I think there has been a lot of improvement in his knowledge and understanding and confidence. His leadership, his presence, all those things I think have a real positive impact on the offensive team and the offensive players. I think he’s really improved as a passer.”
He voluntarily gave up his Twitter and Instagram accounts once practice started so there would be no distractions.
He’s obviously heard the criticisms of his shortcomings as a passer. Those opinions, right or wrong, don’t mean much to him. He blocks that talk out of his mind.
“I don’t listen to anything that’s said,” Hurts said. “Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. Kudos to them, whoever thinks that. All we can do is improve.”