Jalen Hurts paid off a bet with Charles Barkley in perfect fashion.
Hurts and Barkley bet over the outcome of the 2017 Iron Bowl, which Chuck’s Auburn Tigers won 26-14 over Hurts’ Crimson Tide. Although losing to their rival stings, that was the only defeat of the season for Bama, which went on to win the national championship.
This perfect video made by Nike and shared by Alabama puts that into perspective:
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) March 8, 2018
Hmm, advantage: Hurts.
Nick Saban may have an ideal “problem” on his hands entering the college football season.
Saban has two excellent quarterbacks on the roster. First, there’s Jalen Hurts, under whom the team has lost just two games in two seasons. He threw for 17 touchdowns and just one interception while rushing for eight scores last season. Then there’s Tua Tagovailoa, a dangerous dual-threat quarterback who entered the national championship game after halftime and led Alabama to victory over Georgia.
Saban told ESPN’s Chris Low on Thursday that he could see the team finding roles for both quarterbacks next season.
“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 told ESPN. “I don’t know that there’s any more to it than that.”
Saban has told both quarterbacks there will be an open competition for the starting job and that both will have a chance to win it.
Based on what we saw in the title game, Tagovailoa seems to offer some more upside than Hurts. But you can’t discount what Hurts has done the last two seasons; he’s a pretty awesome quarterback to have leading your team too.
Jalen Hurts was Alabama’s starting quarterback all season, but Tua Tagovailoa is getting much of the credit for leading the Tide to a national championship. While the freshman deserves plenty of praise, Hurts was part of the reason Alabama was in position to capture a title. Tagovailoa wants to make sure fans remember that.
On Thursday, Tagovailoa took to Twitter to defend Hurts against critics who say the sophomore should have been benched in favor of his younger teammate much sooner.
Tired of people not appreciating the fact that if this man led us to the National Championship. And for all the fans that are against Jalen, you against me too. You either WITH US or AGAINST US. Love you 2 #BigBroLittleBro @JalenHurts pic.twitter.com/ExjHAB7yHh
— Tua Tagovailoa (@Tuaamann_) January 11, 2018
Hurts, who handled his benching on Monday night as well as Nick Saban could have asked for, appreciated the kind words from Tagovailoa.
— Jalen Hurts (@JalenHurts) January 11, 2018
— Tua Tagovailoa (@Tuaamann_) January 11, 2018
Going forward, Tagovailoa is almost certain to be the Tide’s starting quarterback. It remains to be seen if Hurts will transfer, but there should be no shortage of interest in him with the experience he has and maturity he showed during an incredibly tough situation.
While Tagovailoa is saying all the right things, there have been indications that he feels he should have been given an opportunity to play sooner. He has the potential to be a star next season.
Jalen Hurts acted like a model teammate despite being benched at halftime of the national championship game on Monday night.
After being unable to do much against Georgia’s defense in the first half and going 3-for-8 passing, Hurts was replaced by true freshman Tua Tagovailoa to start the second half. Tagovailoa gave Alabama the spark they needed, directing a touchdown drive on his second possession. And guess who was the first player out to congratulate him? Hurts.
The first guy out to congratulate Tua … Jalen Hurts.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) January 9, 2018
In his postgame interview with ESPN, Hurts had nothing but a positive attitude for his teammate.
— Ben Hutchison (@WISNBennyHutch) January 9, 2018
He also didn’t take any bait from reporters:
A smiling Jalen Hurts asked on the field multiple times about Tua coming in for him, responded the same way: “We’re national champions.”
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) January 9, 2018
Hurts’ comportment was incredible. It’s that kind of leadership that helped Alabama win the national championship. What an impressive dude.
- Jalen Hurts
The Alabama Crimson Tide won the national title in dramatic fashion with a 26-23 overtime win over the Georgia Bulldogs on Monday night. A gutsy quarterback change was at the heart of their victory. It was a classic game filled with talent and drama on both sides, and Alabama staged a memorable second half comeback to take home the hardware.
Here’s a look at five reasons why the Crimson Tide were able to come back and win the championship.
1. Tua Tagovailoa changed the game
The decision to pull Jalen Hurts at halftime was either going to be looked at as a panic move or a stroke of genius depending on the outcome of the game. Ultimately, Nick Saban felt that freshman Tua Tagovailoa would offer more of a downfield threat than Hurts had, and he was right. Tagovailoa wasn’t perfect and he had some accuracy issues, but he had enough raw talent to turn the game around. He was an immediate downfield threat to the Georgia defense, something Hurts was not. That opened up the run game, and Alabama’s offense only got moving once Tagovailoa started taking risks. His fourth down touchdown conversion was indicative of his ability and coolness under pressure, and he had the poise and touch of a senior on the dramatic 41-yard touchdown pass that won the game. Saban’s gamble was rewarded, as Alabama doesn’t win if they don’t make that change.
2. The defensive stars came to play
Da’Ron Payne was a beast, solidifying his status as a top NFL draft pick. His pressure helped create a huge interception in the third quarter. Then there was Raekwon Davis, who had that third quarter interception. With Georgia up 20-10, the Tide forced the turnover and set up a short field. They were only able to capitalize for a field goal, but it made it a one-score game. Aside from one big play, the Alabama defense was suffocating in the second half. It continued into overtime, as Jake Fromm and the Bulldogs’ pair of elite running backs could not get anything going, setting up an Alabama victory.
3. The Tide took control of the field position battle
In the first half, a combination of poor defense and poor discipline meant that Alabama wasn’t winning the field position battle. Georgia wasn’t doing much on that front either, but the Crimson Tide were left with longer fields that Jalen Hurts could deal with. That changed in the second half. Georgia’s offense stalled and Alabama was able to pin them deep. On top of that, their first two scoring drives of the half were on the shorter side — a 56-yard touchdown drive followed by a drive that only required 15 yards off an interception. Georgia was pinned deep. Alabama no longer was.
4. A freshman running back brought a spark
Bo Scarbrough and the Alabama running game had offered little early on, which led to the Crimson Tide turning to freshman Najee Harris for a spark in the second half. It worked. Harris pulled off two very good runs to get them going and was a big factor when he got the opportunity. He only got six carries, but he went for 64 yards on them, opening the door for Scarbrough to get into the swing of things and giving the Georgia defense something to think about.
5. Nick Saban is still the best in the business
So much went wrong for Alabama in this one. Their offense was invisible during the first half. They made some uncharacteristic errors and lost their cool on more than one occasion. They were down 13-0 at halftime with few signs of life. It’s a credit to Saban and his coaching staff that they were able to come back. It took serious guts to bench Hurts in favor of Tagovailoa at halftime, and the team’s shoulders easily could have sagged after Andy Pappanastos shanked a field goal attempt that would have won the game in regulation. They didn’t, and that’s in large part thanks to Saban and his coaches.
Nick Saban has a new quarterback on his hands.
Saban made the decision to bench Jalen Hurts at halftime and put in true freshman Tua Tagovailoa, and it made all the difference. Tagovailoa rallied the team back from down 13-0 and led the Tide to a 26-23 win in overtime.
Why did Saban make the change?
“I just thought we had to throw the ball in the game, and I thought he could do it better,” Saban said in an interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi. “And he did. He did a good job. He made some plays in the passing game.”
With that comment, Saban made it clear he views Tagovailoa as a better passer than Hurts, which spells bad news for Hurts moving forward.
Alabama has the best problem on their hands — they have two young good QBs who are awesome. And credit to Hurts for being an unbelievable teammate despite being benched.
Alabama opened up the second half with a major change as they were looking for a spark in the national championship game down 13-0 to Georgia.
The Crimson Tide benched quarterback Jalen Hurts in favor of true freshman Tua Tagovailoa. Hurts was 3 of 8 for just 21 yards passing, though he rushed for 47 yards on six attempts in the first half.
Bama went 3-and-out on Tagovailoa’s first possession.
There was talk all week that Tagovailoa could see action in the title game, but this was not the circumstance in which Bama wanted it to happen.