Jalen Hurts’ progress. Tua Tagovailoa’s injury. Mac Jones’ A-Day.
All three Alabama quarterbacks had their part in the spring football conversation. But Jones had the final word.
The backup quarterback earned MVP honors while leading the Crimson Team to a 24-12 win on A-Day. Jones went 23-for-35 passing for 289 yards with two touchdowns and one interception while playing with the second team offense against the second team defense. Kicker Joseph Bulovas shared MVP honors with Jones.
Hurts finished 19-for-37 for 195 yards with one interception, adding 33 rushing yards. His White Team had the first team offense, playing against the first team defense.
“I think the second offense was better than the second defense and when I say better, they were better all the way around,” coach Nick Saban said. “They were better in pass protection and production in performance, which is why they won the game. I was not disappointed in the way Jalen (Hurts) played. We have some guys that can rush, and even though we were rushing four guys most of the time, there was way too much pressure in the pocket for the quarterback to be able to operate like we would like.”
Sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was dressed but did not participate with his hand injury. His younger brother, Taulia, committed to Alabama’s 2019 class before the game.
Both offenses were pass-heavy. The Crimson Team running backs had 13 carries to Jones’ 35 passes. The White Team had 20 rushes from the backs compared to Hurts’ 37 passes. White Team running back Najee Harris had a game-high 41 yards on 14 carries, but his team never reached the end zone against the starting defense.
“We have the best defense in the country, year-in-and-year-out,” senior running back Damien Harris said. “We made a lot of big plays, good runs and good passes, but they were a great defense and it’s hard to finish in the red zone. That is just one thing that we have to continue to improve on. We thought last year that finishing in the red zone was one area where we needed to work. So that might be something that we need to continue to improve on.”
Hillcrest product Brian Robinson had seven carries for 26 yards, but also added six receptions for 59 yards. Six of his 13 touches went for first downs as he bounced off defenders from the second team defense and churned forward.
Sophomore Devonta Smith led all receivers with five catches for 87 yards, hauling in a 59-yard pass from Hurts late that set up a potential game-winning field goal. The Crimson Team’s Xavian Marks had five catches for 85 yards and a late 46-yard touchdown reception from Jones. Jones also delivered a 65-yard touchdown to Chadarius Townsend in the second quarter.
“We’ve always known that we had a lot of guys that can play that position at a high level,” Damien Harris said. “No disrespect to anybody, but a lot of the talk has been about Jalen and Tua. One thing me and him have talked about is ‘Just every day, go to work.’ You’ll have the results you want if you keep working hard and keep pushing. … I think he went out there and proved today that he can play. He’s a guy that should be talked about with our first two quarterbacks. Hopefully he’ll start getting the recognition he deserves.”
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.