Analyst: Nick Saban Has Never Had A QB Like Tua

With Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama looks unbeatable

Taz and the Moose
September 17, 2018 - 10:19 am

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Alabama (3-0) is ranked No. 1 in the country – and for good reason. The Tide have beaten three teams – Louisville, Arkansas State and Ole Miss – by a combined 170-28. 

College football fans have become accustomed to seeing dominant defense from Alabama, but the offense has been otherworldly with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who has competed 72 percent of his passes for 646 yards, eight touchdowns and zero interceptions.

“He has a sense of urgency and anticipation from the quarterback position that I have not seen at Alabama,” Backroads Sports Network college football analyst Mike Johnson said on Taz & The Moose. “It’s been an extremely exciting start to the year. Now all of a sudden the curtain is being pulled back and you see the talented skill positions – the tight ends, Irv Smith Jr., the wide receivers, Henry Ruggs, some of these other guys that are able to get open against some of the best coverage guys in college football. It’s going to be an exciting year on that Alabama offense. They look something like I have never seen – and never thought I’d see, frankly, under a Nick Saban-coached football team.”

Jalen Hurts, meanwhile, has played second fiddle for much of the season. He has completed 19-of-28 passing attempts (67.9 percent) for 248 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. He’s also rushed 12 times for 61 yards.

More impressive, perhaps, is how supportive he’s been of the guy who took his job.

“I think he’s done really well,” Johnson said. “He’s done better than I probably would have under the circumstances, so I got to give him credit there. It’s just a tough spot. The bottom line is this: Anybody – and that include Jalen Hurts, Jalen Hurts’ family and Jalen Hurts’ biggest fans – can see that Tua Tagovailoa is just a better quarterback. That’s just the way to be frank about it. I think Jalen Hurts has done a nice job of kind of circling the wagons.”

Entering this season, Hurts was 26-2 as a starting quarterback at Alabama. If he wants to be the No. 1 guy again, however, he may need to play elsewhere.

“He needs to figure out what his own personal goals are,” Johnson said. “He needs to figure out what he wants to make of his football career, what he wants to make of his college career, what position he wants to try to play in the NFL – he needs to figure all those things out. It sounds to me like he still wants to play quarterback, and he still wants to be a part of this Alabama program – and I think that’s an exciting thing all the way around.”

Johnson believes Saban has handled the quarterback controversy, such as it is, with aplomb. 

“I think Nick Saban has done the right thing,” he said. “He’s taken care of the football team. Nick Saban is worried about the football team, and he’s worried about the rest of the other 120 guys that are on that roster. That football team is better with Jalen on the football team being the backup quarterback. He gives them the best chance to win if something does happen to Tua Tagovailoa. 

“So I’m a huge Jalen Hurts fan,” Johnson continued. “I’m a huge fan of the way he’s handled things. i think 99.9 percent of Alabama fans feel the same way. It’s been a pleasure to watch the guy this season, honestly.”

Alabama hosts No. 22 Texas A&M (2-1) this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.