College football is less than a month away, and many programs are in the midst of their fall training camps. That means that Nick Saban does not have a lot of time left to decide who is going to be his signal caller for the upcoming season. The quarterback battle of the defending national champions has been under the microscope ever since the national championship game. Ironically, many fans may not even see this as a battle. Many believe that Tua’s performance in the national championship not only showed that he is more talented than Jalen Hurts, but also that he has the ability to lead a team through adversity. After all, he did guide a team that was trailing by 13 points to overtime and eventually to a national championship victory. However, the decision is not that simple. Both Tua and Jalen have pros and cons. Let’s examine those pros and cons and determine who will be Alabama’s quarterback.
It is no secret that Tua Tagovailoa is a special player. He has loads of talent, impressive athleticism, and a poise that is well beyond his years. Trent Dilfer, former NFL quarterback and coach at the Elite 11 quarterback competition, said that Tua is a “generation-changing quarterback.” Dilfer also stated that he believes that Tua is the most special of the quarterbacks that he has coached–including the likes of Jameis Winston, Sam Darnold, Jared Goff, Shea Patterson, Jarrett Stidham, and Carson Wentz. Those are some of the best quarterbacks in both college and the NFL, and it is pretty scary that Tua may be better than all of them. But the film shows that he definitely can be. Just watch Tua in the games against Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and, of course, the national championship game and you’ll see just how good he really is. With all this praise, it is hard to believe that Tua has any weaknesses. However, there is one big question mark about Tua.
Tua Tagovailoa has not started one game in his entire career. Yes, he won his team the national championship, but that was not even the full game. Tua lacks experience. There is no denying that. He does not know what it takes to play every game in a college football season because he has yet to do so. Making matters worse, Tua is going to have to play physical, aggressive SEC defenses eight times this year. And not during garbage time, contrary to this past season, except for the championship game. As only a sophomore, Tua may have a hard time to adjusting to that aspect of this season.
Also, Tua Tagovailoa is not an amazing runner. Although he is decent at running, many defenses may not respect him as a runner. Therefore, they will defend heavily against the pass, making it harder for Tua to throw the ball downfield. Additionally, Tua’s mediocre running ability makes it hard for him to scramble out of the pocket, which can lead to sacks and poor decisions. For example, in the national championship game Tua threw one interception and was sacked twice in just one half of football, plus one series of overtime. His arm talent bailed him out, but if Tua were a better runner he may have been able to avoid those situations. Although Tua is super talented, his lack of experience and ability to run the football are two weaknesses. Ironically, Tua’s two weaknesses are his counterpart’s two biggest strengths.
Jalen Hurts is a winner, and an experienced one at that. Hurts has played 29 games for the Crimson Tide. He has won 27 of those games, including big games against Washington, Florida State, and Clemson. He may not put up insane numbers, but Jalen Hurts certainly has proven that he can get the job done. Hurts also takes care of the football. In his two seasons with Alabama, Hurts has thrown only ten interceptions. Since Hurts is such a veteran, he makes the right decisions and does not commit many turnovers. Hurts’ experience and protection of the ball are not his only two strengths, however. In fact, Hurts may be the strongest quarterback in the country at this next aspect.
Jalen Hurts is an exceptional runner. Hurts has rushed for a combined 1,809 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2016 and 2017. Those are some pretty impressive rushing stats for a quarterback. Hurts’ raw strength and power are what makes him such an effective rusher. After all, he does weigh about 220 pounds, and I’m willing to bet that most of it is muscle, due to the fact that he can squat nearly 600 pounds. Although Hurts is a prolific runner, he definitely does not have the same type of talent for throwing the football.
Jalen Hurts is a terrible passer. There is no way around that. You have to look no further than the national championship game where Hurts completed three out of eight passes for 21 yards. He is not a threat at all with his arm, which severely limits the play calling for Alabama. All opposing defenses have to do is load up the box to stop the run because they know that Hurts cannot beat them by throwing the ball down the field. That can cause problems for not only the quarterback, but also for the offensive line and running backs because there will be more defenders to block. Jalen Hurts’ abysmal throwing ability is keeping him from being an elite quarterback, and possibly Alabama’s quarterback.
Despite having since January to make this decision, Nick Saban will not have a definitive starter at quarterback come September 1st. Through the first four games or so, Saban will play both quarterbacks. The Tide will not have any problems winning those games, but it will become clear who will be best suited to play quarterback for Alabama during those games. Tua Tagovailoa’s talent at throwing the football will make Jalen Hurts stick out like a sore thumb. Despite all of Hurts’ experience and accomplishments, Tua will force Nick Saban to play him every meaningful snap because he is too good to be sitting on the bench. It may not start out this way, but eventually Tua Tagovailoa is going to be Alabama’s man at quarterback.