SEC Championship: Why Tua Tagovailoa has passing edge over Jake Fromm
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It’s funny to think about now, but Alabama fans have Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm to thank for Tua Tagovailoa.
Fromm, a member of the 2017 recruiting class along with Tagovailoa, was once committed to Alabama, but he took back his verbal pledge in favor of the Bulldogs.
Enter Tagovailoa, who was one of two quarterbacks Alabama took in the 2017 class along with Mac Jones. How different is college football if Fromm sticks with Alabama? It’s hard to believe Alabama gets both Fromm and Tagovailoa.
Taking things further, is Jalen Hurts still the starter if Fromm comes to Alabama instead of Tagovailoa? It clearly took a special moment and a special player for Alabama coach Nick Saban to move on from Hurts, and Tagovailoa is that.
Coming back to present day, Tagovailoa and Fromm will lead their teams into battle as No. 1 Alabama faces No. 5 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. on CBS.
It’ll be the second time the two sophomores have faced off as Tagovailoa got the best of Fromm with that thrilling second half and overtime in the national championship in January.
On paper, Tagovailoa and Alabama are the better team, but why is Alabama a better passing team than Georgia?
Tagovailoa has a high completion percentage (70 percent to 69 percent), more passing yards (3,189 to 2,236), more yards per attempt (11.9 to 9.6), more passing touchdowns (36 to 24), a better quarterback rating (212.51 to 179.41) and more passing yards per game (265.8 to 186.3). For good measure, Tagovailoa also has fewer interceptions (2 to 5) despite throwing more passes.
No matter how you look at it, Tagovailoa is better. Fromm is a good quarterback, but Tagovailoa is a special one.
He can make every throw, and his receivers are so talented and versatile that they can do the rest. Whether it’s go routes, slants or seam routes to tight end Irv Smith, Alabama has 5 receiving targets who are averaging more than 17 yards per catch. Tagovailoa’s precise ball placement sets everything in motion.
Tagovailoa is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. He’s fresh off a performance against Auburn that saw him pass for 324 yards and account for 6 total touchdowns (career-high 5 passing, plus 1 rushing).
Tagovailoa upped his touchdown responsibility total for the season to 41 (36 passing/5 rushing), breaking Hurts’ school single-season record of 36 set in 2016 (23/13).
Tagovailoa is also fourth on the UA career touchdown responsibility list at 54. Tagovailoa has 47 career scoring tosses and 7 rushing scores in 21 games.
Tua Tagovailoa is now tied for second on the Alabama career touchdown passes list at 47 with John Parker Wilson (2005-08). AJ McCarron (2010-13) leads with 77. Those are ridiculous numbers considering Tagovailoa is in his first season as a starter.
He already holds Bama’s single-season TD record (36 and counting) and is closing in on the single-season yards record too. He’s second with 3,189 yards — just 298 behind Blake Sims’ record. That could fall this weekend in Atlanta.
Tagovailoa has directed 99 drives as the Tide’s starting quarterback this season with 58 resulting in touchdowns (58.6 percent) and eight culminating in field goals for 66 total scoring drives (66.7 percent).
In those drives, the Tide offense is 46-for-79 (58.2 percent) on third down conversions, accounting for 4,718 yards on 536 snaps for an average of 8.80 yards per play and 431 of the 543 points scored by the UA offense.
The Crimson Tide has now scored 588 points this season, breaking the school record of 582 set by the 2016 team in 15 games. Alabama scored 50 or more points in eight of its 12 games. That’s the most in program and SEC history.
Fromm is a good player, but it’s hard to envision a scenario where he is able to match Tagovailoa and Alabama’s offensive firepower.