CBS Sports writer makes bold prediction for Tua Tagovailoa's role in Alabama offense
In his freshman season, Alabama QB Jalen Hurts led the Crimson Tide to an undefeated regular season, SEC Championship and a Chick Fil A Bowl victory over Washington. Hurts was the team’s statistical leader in both rushing attempts (191, 12.7 per game) and rushing touchdowns (13) while also throwing for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns. It was a season that led to a fair amount of Heisman Trophy talk, though Hurts ultimately wasn’t a finalist.
Despite Hurts’ impressive freshman campaign, Ben Kercheval of CBS Sports predicts that newcomer Tua Tagovailoa, a former 5-star quarterback recruit who shined in UA’s spring game, will play a key role in Alabama’s offense this fall:
It would be foolhardy to call a quarterback controversy before Week 1 of the season. Besides, Jalen Hurts was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year, according to the conference’s coaches. But here’s betting early-enrollee quarterback Tagovailoa, a five-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2017 recruiting class, sees the field sooner rather than later — and eventually becomes a packaged part of the offense by some point in the season.
To further his point, Kercheval turns to recent comments made by former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who recruited both Hurts and Tagovailoa:
The hype surrounding Tagovailoa has been building for some time now. Former offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, now the coach at Florida Atlantic, couldn’t help but gush over the quarterback he won’t get to coach in Tuscaloosa.
“I would sure think so,” Kiffin told Tide 102.9 FM regarding whether Tagovailoa would play in 2017. “I mean you guys saw him at spring game. He’s a special talent. And coach [Nick] Saban will figure out the best way to do it obviously, whether they both play.”
If Kiffin was still the offensive coordinator, this prediction would be a slam dunk. If nothing else, Kiffin might usher Tagovailoa onto the field before Saban could say anything and deal with the inevitable ass-chewings later. (Remember, kids, sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.) Hurts remains the starter and shouldn’t have to deal with any murmurs to the contrary unless he shows reason to make a change. But if Hurts has also taught Saban anything, it’s that quarterback talent is too good to be left on the sideline.
While there’s no need to outright dismiss Kiffin’s comments, as he does have some insight from working with Saban, it’s worth noting this will likely be offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s call. Kercheval conveniently makes no mention of Daboll, who has a background in the NFL, where two-quarterback systems are virtually unheard of, when predicting Tagovailoa will have a significant role.
Fans interested in Kercheval’s four other bold predictions for the 2017 season can find the full article here.