Alabama Football: No viable reason Tua should not start for Tide


Alabama football head coach Nick Saban has worked hard to ensure his team is competitive on an annual basis. The sage coach has to decide on a starter between two quarterbacks that would start at any other program in the country.

Alabama football opens up as a 29 point favorite against the Louisville Cardinal in 98 days. For the Crimson Tide’s opening series, who takes the first snap? The adage if you have two quarterbacks, you do not have one does not apply here.

This weighty debate is the most discussed in Tuscaloosa since Andrew Zow, and Tyler Watts battled it out. Fans have sided for either Tua Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts.

Tua and Hurts led the Crimson Tide to the University’s 17th national championship. Junior quarterback Hurts started the entire season and the title game. True freshman Tagovailoa replaced Hurts in the second half as the offense struggled mightily and led the Tide to victory.

Heading into spring practice, many fans assumed the heated battle would be solved. Unfortunately, Tua was hurt in the first spring practice when he fractured his throwing hand leaving the duel unanswered.

Saban will ensure Tua is game ready

Tagovailoa inserted energy to a lifeless offense that struggled in the final two months of the season. As a result, he finished with 166 yards and three touchdowns in just a half of the most critical game of the season.

The 66-year-old coach only likes game managers, not gunslingers. No one should expect Tua will be the next Brett Favre just slinging the pigskin all over Bryant Denny Stadium with reckless abandon.

Alabama football will not suddenly change from a balanced offensive team to a Mike Leach led Washington State air raid offense. The head coach does not believe in passing the ball all over the field. Most of all, he stresses ball control offense. Saban does not like to put the defense in stressful situations.

John Parker Wilson, in 2007, was the only quarterback to go over 400 passing attempts under Saban. The exact number was 462 attempts. The second most is Jacob Coker with 393. Last season, Jalen only attempted 255 passes. Don’t expect new offensive coordinator Mike Locksley to throw it 50 times a game.

Stats to back it up

Whenever a debate arises about who will be the starter, the biggest argument used against Tua is that he may be turnover prone. What makes fans think this is a viable argument and how did they come to that conclusion?

He only threw two interceptions in 77 attempts. One was against Tennessee in a 45-7 rout, and the other was in the College Football Playoff Championship game.

Starter Jalen Hurts passing yardage declined in his sophomore season, but he only threw one interception the entire season. As a team, the Tide threw just three interceptions which is pretty good.

Dating back to Saban’s earlier head coaching stops at Toledo, Michigan State, and LSU, quarterback Todd Schultz of Michigan State had 17 interceptions in just 299 passing attempts in 1997. The Saban led Spartans ended the season 7-5.

In 1999, Spartans quarterback Bill Burke threw 18 interceptions, and the coach stood by him. The Spartans finished with a 10-2 record. Technically, he threw 16 interceptions under Saban who departed before the Citrus Bowl to take the LSU job. Burke threw two passes to the Florida defense with coach Bobby Williams on the sidelines.

At LSU, Josh Booty once threw 15 picks in a season. John Parker Wilson had 12 during Saban’s first season in the Capstone.

Comparing Tua to AJ McCarron, AJ has the most passing attempts of any Alabama quarterback during Saban era, and he also has the lowest interception percentage with 1.46%. He also has the record for most passes without an interception with 291, which is 100 passes over second place Brodie Croyle.

If you deem Saban will not use Tua because of a propensity for turnovers, think again. He has shown that it is one of several measurements for Saban QB’s. Overall, it is a culmination of all the little things such as leadership, understanding of the offense and game management that the head coach looks for in a quarterback.

Ready for challenge

Former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer has said numerous times, “Tua Tagovailoa is the best quarterback I have ever scouted.”

ATLANTA, GA – JANUARY 08: Tua Tagovailoa #13 celebrates a touchdown pass with Jalen Hurts #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the third quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA – JANUARY 08: Tua Tagovailoa #13 celebrates a touchdown pass with Jalen Hurts #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the third quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Don’t believe it as hyperbole. This sentiment comes from a guy who observes top high school quarterbacks every year at his Elite 11 camp. The former player has witnessed NFL stars Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Brett Favre.

In the championship game, Hurts was facing eight and nine-man boxes daring him to throw the ball downfield.

Once Tua entered the game with the threat of throwing the ball downfield, it opened up running lanes for Bo Scarbrough who broke off a 16-yard run late in the third quarter. Also, Najee Harris scampered for a 16 and 35-yard runs in the fourth quarter.

With Hurts still behind center, those runs may not transpire. This statement is not a slight to Jalen, who is a dynamic playmaker. The former SEC Offensive Player of the Year brings a different skill set to the Alabama football offense, but there is a once in a lifetime player on the verge of greatness available.

Every preseason magazine has Tua as a top 5 quarterback in the nation. Saban cannot allow this exceptional talent to go to waste or transfer to another program.

Next: Who is Alabama's Greatest Player of All Time?

As Tua plays more, more film review will give opposing defensive staffs better plans to defend against him. The lefty quarterback offers a more balanced offense that is harder to stop. Comparatively, the offense remains at a disadvantage with Hurts. The chorus from many Alabama football fans is “Play Tua and stop making excuses”!