Alabama has made the move.
Sorry. Nick Saban has made the move.
After two seasons of Jalen Hurts, Saban is making the change to Tua Tagovailoa, the highly-touted recruit from Hawaii.
It wasn’t what Hurts did, it’s what he didn’t do. Hurts has been criticized for his lack of arm strength in the past, and Alabama started their title game against Georgia without much of a vertical threat.
Hurts finished the first half 3/8 passing for 21 yards. He was the team’s leading rusher in the first half, finishing with 47 yards on six carries.
After a tepid start, it was clear why Tagovailoa was inserted into the lineup. Dude can throw. He can also scramble, as he evaded the Georgia defense for a massive first down in the quarter. That led to Bama’s first touchdown, and the comeback was officially on:
Tagovailoa took numerous deep chances in the second half, stretching out the Georgia defense. He wasn’t perfect either, as evidenced by a bad interception on what appeared to be a blown screen pass.
When the fourth quarter came, Tagovailoa did not shy away from the spotlight. He led Alabama back from a 17-point deficit, culminating with this laser TD pass on fourth down:
But it didn’t stop there. In overtime, Tagovailoa threw a 41-yard touchdown to win the national championship. Watch the way he looks off the safety:
Tagovailoa finished the game with 166 yards and three touchdowns. It was an incredible performance for the true freshman, who will likely still compete for Jalen Hurts for the starting QB job next season.
Hailing out of Ewa Beach, Hawai’i, Tagovailoa attended the same high school as Titans QB Marcus Mariota. He was the nation’s top dual-threat QB in his recruiting class, and was the number one passer at the 2016 Elite 11 QB Camp.
Trent Dilfer, architect of the Elite 11 camp, had crazy high praise for Tagovailoa. Dilfer worked extensively with Aaron Rodgers when he was coming out of college, and told reporters that Tagovailoa “throws it better than Aaron Rodgers threw it as a sophomore at Cal-Berkeley.”
Alabama doesn’t need Aaron Rodgers to win the title, but Tagovailoa showed early why Saban made the swtich. Tagovailoa led the Tide down the field early in the third quarter, and has single-handedly injected life into the Alabama offense.
Another person that had kind words for Tagovailoa was Georgia QB Jake Fromm. The pair competed at the Elite 11 finals, and Fromm was impressed by the Hawaiian’s accuracy.
“When we were going through the 7-on-7 competition, he, by far, had the best day,” Fromm said. “He would’ve gone 15-for-15 if it had not been for one or two drops. Someone asked him how he did, and Tua, being the humble guy he is, said “Oh, I just did all right.” Man, he’s a great Christian guy. I just love Tua.”
If the national championship is any indication of Tagovailoa’s future at Alabama, it just can’t get any more unfair for Saban and his team.