Alabama Has Never Been In This Situation

Alabama has had quarterback battles before – but not one like this, Phil Savage said

Taz and the Moose
August 10, 2018 - 10:16 am

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The good news for Nick Saban is that he has two great quarterbacks at his disposal. The bad news for Nick Saban is that, well, he has two great quarterbacks at his disposal.

Yes, Jalen Hurts or Tua Tagovailoa could start for Alabama and excel, but ultimately, there’s only one spot up for grabs.

“While the celebration was wild after the national championship come-from-behind win against Georgia, literally within 30 seconds of that game ending, it’s been the topic du jour in the state of Alabama – and really, for a lot of college football,” Alliance Phoenix general manager Phil Savage said on Taz & The Moose. “Alabama has never been in this situation. Have they had quarterback battles before? Absolutely – between guys who had never played before.”

On the one hand, Hurts is 26-2 as a starter. On the other hand, Tagovailoa saved Alabama against Georgia.

“The situation with Jalen Hurts, he really saved Alabama two years ago when he showed up as a true freshman in the spring and ended up winning the job,” Savage said. “There was a lot of debate; will Nick Saban play a true freshman? They did – and they ran the table until the last game of the season against Clemson, only to lose the national championship game. And then of course last year, the only loss was to Auburn. So two losses under Jalen Hurts’ belt in the two years that he’s been the starter.”

It could have easily been three. Alabama trailed Georgia 13-0 at halftime when Saban switched to Tagovailoa, who led the Tide to a 26-23 overtime win.

“Obviously Tua was sensational in the national championship,” Savage said. “He flashed big time during the regular season a year ago, but this is a completely different quarterback battle that Alabama has ever had because of the resume and the potential that the two individuals bring to the table. I think with Jalen Hurts, for a lack of a better phrase, his feelings are hurt a little bit. Remember how he responded during the national championship game? You would never know that he wasn’t the one that threw the winning touchdown pass. It was Tua, but he was right there to enjoy it, celebrate it, and I think in some ways he probably feels a little bit forgotten, a little bit taken for granted. As I said, two years ago he saved the season for Alabama.”

Tagovailoa, though, might be a better fit for the system Saban wants to run.

“When Jalen played his first year, Lane Kiffin was the offensive coordinator, and Alabama was really running a college offense,” Savage said. “After Lane left and went to FAU, Alabama really tried to revert back to a pro-style system. They really want to be more of a pro-style attack. They know they have a stable of running backs, they know they have tight ends and wide receivers available all over the depth chart, a veteran offensive line. Tua is the guy that, as a point guard, can distribute the football.”

Where that leaves Hurts, no one knows.

“This is a young man that’s going to graduate in 3.5 years,” Savage said. “He’s set to graduate in December, he’s made very workout, every practice – he’s been a very low-maintenance player. And probably from his perspective, he feels a little bit taken for granted, and I think that was probably the reason for the reaction that he’s had in terms of what has gone on this offseason.”

Alabama opens the season against Louisville on Sept. 1 in Orlando. Kickoff is at 8 p.m. ET.