Posted on July 12, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
A lot of college football teams have questions at quarterback. But no one has a question at quarterback the way Alabama does this year. The Crimson Tide return their starting quarterback in sophomore Jalen Hurts. As a true freshman last season, Hurts won the starting job and then won SEC Offensive Player of the Year while leading Alabama to the College Football Playoff championship game.
But the Tide also have Tua Tagovailoa. He’s a five-star freshman who was awfully impressive during Alabama’s spring game in April and could be ready to step on the field this fall. Only in Tuscaloosa would you find such an enviable dilemma at the quarterback position. However, Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban says there’s no competition and no controversy at Alabama.
Saban addressed the topic during his time at the podium at SEC Media Day on Wednesday. In fact, you could tell he was just waiting for the issue to come up, as he interrupted a reporter trying to ask Saban about a potential quarterback controversy.
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“Who’s saying that?” Saban snapped back. “You’re the only one saying that. Trying to create that right now. I’ve never said that, so I don’t know who’s saying that. So it’s like me saying that somebody said (we’re) going to have a hurricane today. Is that right or wrong? I just said it. Does that mean I created something that makes everybody panic and creates news?”
Saban admitted that he was waiting for such a question “like a hanging curveball.” Of course, the five-time national championship winning head coach also said there would be competition amongst his players all over the field.
“We have a lot of competition at a lot of positions, and we’re going to play the best players. I think our players respect that,” Saban said. “We’re going to try to develop every player on the team to be the best player they can be. But we’re not going to tolerate people making stuff up just to create interest.”
Despite struggling in last year’s title game against Clemson, Hurts has done nothing to lose his starting job. But the hype around Tagovailoa continues to grow. After enrolling in school last January, Tagovailoa completed 17 of 29 passes for 313 yards in Alabama’s spring game. Saban also admitted on Wednesday that he expects the true freshman to see the field this season.
“We have total faith and confidence in the quarterback that we have, but we want to develop every player on our team and Tua has a lot of potential,” Saban said. “We want to continue to develop him. If we feel like he can play winning football, I think it’s going to be important for us to allow him to do that; so, if he gets in a situation that he needs to play, he’s going to be able to play winning football for us. We want to continue his development and a part of that development is he needs to play in games.”
So while Saban did his best to squash any talk of a quarterback controversy, he did acknowledge that Tagovailoa will get some playing time this year. That could be in the form of mop-up duty or even a special package of plays. Either way, Saban plans on giving Tagovailoa playing time.
If we are to believe Saban, Hurts will be the starter when Alabama opens up the season in Atlanta against Florida State. That will avoid any kind of preseason quarterback competition. But once the season starts, all bets may be off. Hurts may be playing to keep his job each and every week with a five-star freshman breathing down his neck. There may be no quarterback controversy in Alabama before the season, but during the season could be a different story.