Steve Sarkisian is back as the Alabama offensive coordinator after two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. Those two seasons were Tua Tagovailoa’s freshman and sophomore years at Alabama. There was only a brief month before the 2016 national championship game (January 2017) they were together when Tagovailoa was an early enrollee and Sarkisian was working as an offensive assistant. Despite the fact that 2019 is their first full year together in Tuscaloosa, Tagovailoa and Sarkisian actually go way back.

Before Sarkisian arrived at Alabama as an analyst, he was the head coach at USC. Tagovailoa was on his radar as a potential Trojans recruit. Sarkisian says that familiarity helped them get to know each other both go-arounds.

“I had a long-standing relationship with him and his family, so I think it made for a little easier transition at that time and even now, just having that relationship of knowing the family, being in their home in Hawaii in-home visits,” Sarkisian said at his Saturday press conference ahead of Alabama’s Fan Day. “I just think all-in-all, for Tua and for me, that previous relationship that we had has been very helpful in the transition now with a new coordinator, myself, coming in for this year.”

It comes as no surprise that Sarkisian likes what he has seen on tape from his quarterback.

“After watching him play college football, studying the tape, being attentive in spring ball. He’s a very instinctive player,” Sarkisian said. “He has a natural feel for passing the football and the passing game. Just on that note, I think those two things stand out to me – his ability to stay accurate regardless of the elements and his quick release, and then the instincts he plays with.”

For a player-coach relationship only a few months ago, it certainly sounds like Sarkisian and Tagovailoa are getting along well in Tuscaloosa.