The best is yet to come for Tua Tagovailoa? Gary Danielson sees Alabama QB growing in Steve Sarkisian's system
Tua Tagovailoa nearly won the Heisman Trophy last fall during his first season as Alabama’s starting quarterback but lead CBS analyst Gary Danielson believes this year’s version of Tagovailoa could prove to be much better by season’s end.
On the surface, that comment may be hard to comprehend considering all of Tagovailoa’s success in 2018 but when things got tough down the stretch last fall, Alabama’s first-year quarterback didn’t perform well enough for the Crimson Tide to win it all. Some of those struggles can be attributed to injuries but the way Danielson saw it, Alabama’s offense was lacking in substance when opposing defenses took away the Tide’s RPOs on the field.
During a recent CBS teleconference, Danielson explained his thoughts on why Alabama’s passing game struggled at times late last season.
“It was too easy,” Danielson said according to AL.com. “Too many RPOs. Too many open receivers. Not enough of those gutsy plays that Alabama teams have made in the past with the Greg McElroys and AJ McCarron where they had to have that fourth-quarter drive or first-down pass where you had to be clutch. And, it caught up with them against Georgia.
“And against Clemson, when the RPOs were taken away, they didn’t really have anywhere else to go. I think Nick (Saban) made an incredibly smart move in re-vamping his offense and getting more NFLish, and the major beneficiary of this is going to be Tua.”
To correct this issue, following the departure of offensive assistants Mike Locksley, Dan Enos, Brent Key and Josh Gattis this offseason, Saban rehired Steve Sarkisian to run the offense in Tuscaloosa. According to Danielson, that will prove to be an excellent hire for Tagovailoa by season’s end.
The signs are already there, according to the CBS analyst.
“You can already see it,” Danielson said. “(Tua) is handling the progressions better. He’s taking first-down throws instead of AAU throws. I like to call them AAU throws because it is all flash and dash, and there aren’t consequences if you don’t make the big throw. …
“He’s going to have to stay healthy for his team, and he’s going to have to manage it more like Jake Fromm manages his team for Alabama to get into the championship, which is how they get measured.”
That’s an interesting observation from Danielson, who has been studying up Tagovailoa in anticipation for Alabama’s upcoming trip to Columbia to take on South Carolina. The nation’s No. 2 team is set to play the Gamecocks Saturday, Sept. 14 at 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT on CBS.