Spring football starts in less than 10 days, and the main topic, which will will go unanswered, throughout the combined 15 practices and scrimmages is who will be the starting quarterback.
Alabama coach Nick Saban is no hurry to answer the question and rightfully so. Why answer the question when it doesn’t yet need to be answered, especially when the disclosure could cause him to lose either to-be junior Jalen Hurts and to-be sophomore Tua Tagovailoa.
Saban recently broached the subject in an interview with espn.com in which he said he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of playing both quarterbacks. Saban’s history shows that’s not a likely scenario that will play out, but he said it’s possible.
“The most important thing is to play the best guy, and if both guys can play winning football, it’s not out of the question that we’ll find a role for both guys in fairness to both guys,” Saban said in the interview with ESPN. “I don’t know that there’s any more to it than that.”
Hurts is 25-2 in two seasons as a starter, but in the Crimson Tide’s last game against Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, he gave way to Tagovailoa, who saved Alabama with three second-half passing touchdowns, including the game-winning 41-yarder in overtime.
Saban said he inserted Tagovailoa against Georgia to jumpstart the passing game. Hurts was just 3 of 8 passing for 21 yards in the first half.
Former Alabama quarterback Blake Sims, who led the team to the CFP in 2014 as the starting signal caller, said Hurts has handled the situation nearly perfectly.
“He dealt with it better than I would’ve, most definitely,” Sims said. “To know that you only lost two games your whole (career) and you get pulled, I was very surprised to see a smile on his face, because what player would you see with a smile? I hope that showed everyone that he’s more about the team than himself, and that he wants to be a winner. You can’t do nothing but respect that. That’s my little bro. Tua’s my little bro. I want to see them be the best that they can be. I told them they’ve got to help each other because we all wear the crimson. That’s the motto right now.
“They’re two great guys. It’s just how life works. Sometimes God puts you in spots to see how strong you are, to see how big he is. Maybe that’s just a test for both of them for God to see how far he can push them.”
Calvin Ridley joked during Pro Day this week he’d be happy with a two-quarterback system that could utilize the skill set of both players. Beyond that, he doesn’t have an opinion on who the starter should be.
“I wish I was playing here to tell you, but I ain’t here,” Ridley said. “I don’t know. They’re going to find some way to get both of those great football players to be playing and helping this team.”
Sims thinks it could work.
“I think that would be very good,” he said. “I think it would be harder for the defense to prepare for our games because both quarterbacks’ strengths are different. You’ve got to accept what you get, and Coach Saban’s the GOAT, man, so he’ll make sure we do the right thing. I’m looking forward to this season. I’ll be there every game, too.”
Saban will likely grow weary of discussing the quarterback competition, but, for now, he’s encoring both guys to do just that: compete.
“We’re always looking to create competition on the practice field, and it shouldn’t be any different at quarterback,” Saban said.
Reach Aaron Suttles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.