Alabama Gives Opposing Coaches Another Headache To Consider
Something interesting happened in the third quarter of Alabama’s 45-7 win over Tennessee.
The Tide had just taken the second-half kickoff to build a 28-0 lead – putting the game well out of reach for the offense-challenged Vols – when Nick Saban put true freshman Tua Tagovailoa in at quarterback.
There was more than nine minutes left in the third quarter but starter Jalen Hurts was on the bench. After one second-half possession. It seemed a bit early to put in Tagovailoa and Hurts had made four to five inaccurate throws in the game. Plus Hurts chose not to try to hit a streaking Calvin Ridley on a deep post pattern; an accurate throw would have resulted in a touchdown.
So when Tagovailoa went in with so much time left in the game, slinging around passes like Joe Namath, it seemed to me that Saban might have been preparing the freshman to play in the upcoming College Football Playoffs. He could been debuting a two-quarterback system to give Alabama a legitimate passing threat to go along with its powerful running game.
With Hurts either struggling or unwilling to throw the deep, home-run ball to Ridley, Saban may be preparing his quarterback – and his team – to have that become a part of the Tide’s offense.
And then something else odd happened. In between Tagovailoa whipping the ball with pinpoint accuracy all over the field: the coaches allowed him to run the ball. This is Hurts’ speciality – along with being as calm as a light ocean breeze – so when Tagovailoa was given run plays, it had to send shivers down the spines of every defensive coordinator on Bama’s schedule (including those that might play Bama later in the year).
One one run, Tagovailoa ran up the middle, juked a Tennessee defender out of his jock strap, and glided into the end zone.
Yes, Tagovailoa did throw a pick-six on the goal line, but he’s a freshman. There’s still a lot of room to grow and learn.
Now here’s another possibility of putting Tagovailoa in the game so early.
If Saban was not using this as a warmup to a two-platoon quarterback system down the line, then he certainly was causing other teams’ coaches to think about it. And that can only help the Tide.