Alabama Football Swagger: 2017 Week 2 All-Stars


A weekly article series examining two players walking with swagger for the Alabama football team. This week – Jalen Hurts & Ronnie Harrison.

Now to fully understand what the Alabama Football Swagger is, it means to have reason to walk with a confident, proud air around you. Some people mistake it for vanity, arrogance, or being pompous. This incorrect assumption is not what we mean. The Swagger is about knowing that your deeds showed off your amazing skills to the football-loving public.

One of these young men found vindication in his own play from a week ago, instead of relying on others to do it for him. The other worked hard to stop any attack, including a verbal one from his own defensive coordinator.

Offense – Jalen Hurts

What can I say except you’re welcome! 

Seems appropriate after the week Hurts had, having to hear the doubters’ voices grow louder after the Florida State game. All week long, Hurts was in the media being criticized, possibly by his own head coach Nick Saban, that the sophomore quarterback needed to distribute the ball more evenly.

Hurts completed 14 out of 18 passes for 128 yards, was the leading rusher with 150 yards on 10 carries, and earned three total touchdowns. His longest run was 55 yards at the start of the game.

Hurts didn’t even play the entire game. Much of the second and fourth quarter possessions went to backup Tua Tagovailoa. The understudy did alright, but his play governs thoughts that Hurts knows how to lead the offensive better than anyone else on the team.

‘Ball-control’ quarterbacks don’t produce like Hurts did. They usually hand the ball off and hope the defense comes up with scores of their own. In this game, Hurts dominated the Bulldogs defense. He ran from pressure when he needed but he also stayed in the pocket to make big passes. His legs were used only to give himself a better vantage point for a passing lane, or when the pocket completely collapsed, or for when his number was called for a QB draw.

How’s that for a balanced attack?

Defense – Ronnie Harrison

The junior defensive back may not have had the lone interception in the game but Harrison had eight total tackles. Five of those were done solo. One was even for a loss, as Harrison’s speed can get him into the backfield before the opposing receiver or quarterback even knows that he’s there.

Harrison also had to play through some adversity.

He’s a native of Tallahassee, Florida. Hurricane Irma was expected to tear through the southern and western part of the state over the weekend and cause chaos for many families. Tallahassee would either be a part or near the flight path of this monstrous storm, which has been weighing on many people’s minds.

There also was a bit of a storm on the sidelines, as well. Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt chewed out his entire defensive squad for allowing penalties and poor play to let the Fresno State Bulldogs gain more yards in the air than Florida State did the previous week.

None felt the lash of his tongue more than the defensive backs who continuously were caught falling behind Bulldog wide receivers deep. When they stayed back to counter the strategy, Fresno State quick-slanted the Alabama defense to death. First downs seemed inevitable.

That is, except when Harrison would break up the plays and stop drives before Fresno State could get close enough to score. Only one touchdown could the Bulldogs muster all game.

Next: In Saban era, Fresno State type games are common

Final Thoughts

Hurts won’t quell all of the doubters until he does what he did to the Bulldogs against a stronger football program. However, Hurts proved that he can balance the distribution of his aerial assault, instead of keying on just one receiver. He should try to continue using some more tight ends down the seams of the field when he gets into trouble.

Harrison and his defensive backs crew will still have to live with friendly fire from the media (and likely his coaches) for another week. Harrison did his job, but the group needs a definite improvement overall if they are to escape criticism and doubt.