|TideSports College Football Preview|
Position coach: Brian Daboll (first season)
Returning starter: Jalen Hurts
Starter lost: None
What a freshman season it was for Jalen Hurts. After coming in on the third series of the season-opener against Southern Cal, Hurts never relinquished the job. He accounted for 3,734 total yards and 36 touchdowns, rushing for 954 and 13 touchdowns while passing for 3,734 and 36 touchdowns. He was named SEC Offensive Player of the Year. But last year in in the books for Hurts, who said minutes after the loss in the national championship game that his sophomore season started the morning after the loss.
Freshman Tua Tagovailoa arrived to much fanfare and showed his potential in the A-Day spring game. The left-hander has a quick release and can spin the ball. Listed at 6-foot-1, 219 pounds, Tagovailoa has the size to play if pressed into action. Nick Saban has said Tagovailoa will play this season. With no experience behind Hurts, it will fall on Tagovailoa to be the backup. Fellow freshman Mac Jones, from Jacksonville, Fla., is the other scholarship quarterback on the roster. Jones, 6-2, 190, has some physical maturing to do and he’s made progress already. He’ll spend the season likely gaining weight and and strength while also learning the offense.
Newcomer to watch
Tua Tagovailoa arrived during the spring and the Hawaii native immediately grabbed attention with his lightning-quick release and accuracy. His performance on A-Day impressed.
You need to know
Alabama hasn’t had a returning starter at quarterback since AJ McCarron returned for his senior season in 2013. Up until that time, every quarterback at Alabama in the Saban era had been a returning starter.
The focus of the offseason has centered on the development of Jalen Hurts as a passer. His running skill is evident and clearly a big part of his game. Alabama isn’t going to take that away from the offense. However, to achieve balance, Hurts will need to consistently complete passes down the field and not rely so heavily on wide receiver screens and jet sweeps. With a wide receiving corps stacked with talent, including Calvin Ridley, Robert Foster, Jerry Jeudy and more, taking advantage of mismatches down the field is a must.
Jalen Hurts averaged 185 yards passing a game, but the season ended with him passing for 57 yards against Washington in the College Football Playoff semifinal and 131 against Clemson in the national championship game for 188 total yards.
“We’ll only be as good as we work, as hard as we work to be. It’s on us and we have to go out and improve every day, work hard, because it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to happen in the blink of an eye. Nothing’s given to us, we’ve got to earn everything.”
– Jalen Hurts