Top 10 Tua Tagovailoa moments at Alabama
Even though Tua Tagovailoa was on campus in Tuscaloosa for 3 football seasons, his practical on-field time was basically just over 1.5 seasons’ worth of excellence before he announced Monday that he was skipping his senior season to enter the NFL Draft.
And while there was really only 1 play — 2nd-and-26 — that Tagovailoa needed to write his name in Crimson flame, there were plenty of highlight moments in his star-studded Alabama career.
Tagovailoa finished with 7,442 passing yards and set Alabama’s career record with 87 touchdown passes. He threw just 11 interceptions. Among his other program records are most yards in a season (3,966 in 2018), most 400-yard games in a career (3), most TD passes in a season (43 in 2018) and game (6), most games with 5 or more TD passes (4), most games with 4 or more TD passes (12).
Tagovailoa completed 69.3 percent of his passes at Alabama and averaged 10.9 yards per pass.
Here are the 10 Tagovailoa moments we liked the most:
10. Welcome to Alabama!
Anyone who saw this live in 2017 couldn’t have imagined what was yet to come for Tagovailoa, though it reeks of the once-in-a-generation athleticism that was sure to come.
Vanderbilt had already laid down to top-ranked Alabama at this point, and starter Jalen Hurts had just ceded to the young freshman.
Saying he hits DeVonta Smith on a TD pass is a gross understatement. Take a look …
9. Jeudy joins the bomb squad
While the 2018 National Championship Game against Clemson was largely forgettable, Tagovailoa did manage a few career highlights.
Among them was this 62-yard strike to Jerry Jeudy to even the game at 7.
8. A cannon blast to Smith against A&M
Plays like this just aren’t fair, and this one deserves almost as much credit to Smith as it does to Tagovailoa.
No. 22 Texas A&M was in town to play the defending champs, and the Tide was fresh off intercepting Kellen Mond.
That was all Tagovailoa needed, as his ensuing 30-yard howitzer to a diving Smith made it 7-0 en route to a 45-23 whipping.
7. Roughing up the Gamecocks in Columbia
Tagovailoa continued to rewrite the record books throughout 2019, and notched more highlights on the road at South Carolina.
Tagovailoa went 28-of-36 for a career-high 444 yards to go with 5 touchdowns, a total that matched his previous career mark. He also became the first quarterback in Alabama history to throw for 400-plus yards and 5 touchdowns in the same game
6. Spin to win against Louisville
Did someone say freakish athleticism?
Tagovailoa opened the 2018 season as the starter against Louisville, and calmly turned in this gem of a touchdown throw — spinning to avoid a Cardinals rusher and seeing Jeudy out of the corner of his eye.
5. Dropping a dime against the Vols
Want an object lesson on how elite Tagovailoa is at his position? Look no further than this dime to Jaylen Waddle against Tennessee in 2018. Stepping up in the pocket, Tagovailoa throws a 40-yard dart to Waddle — who was working against perfect double coverage.
Waddle doesn’t have to break stride to catch this pass, a 77-yard TD. Heck, he barely had to reach for it. Tagovailoa calmly deposited the ball right in his hands at full speed.
4. Ridley for the tie against Georgia
Lost in the deserved hoopla around the game’s final play, Tagovailoa and the Tide wouldn’t have gotten into overtime had No. 4 not happened against Georgia in the 2017 national title game.
Facing a 4th-and-4 at the Georgia 7, and trailing by a TD, Tagovailoa had eyes right the entire time before scrambling out of the pocket and seeing Calvin Ridley in the end zone.
Throw. Catch. Tie game.
3. Teammates forever
Jalen Hurts spent most of the 2018 season watching from the sideline, cheering on the guy who took his job and hoping for one more chance to lead the Crimson Tide. He got his chance in the 2018 SEC Championship Game against Georgia — ironically the same team the Tide faced when he lost his job to Tagovailoa.
Hurts didn’t disappoint. He threw a touchdown pass and ran for another with just over a minute to go to rally No. 1 Alabama to a 35-28 victory over No. 4 Georgia — a stunning twist on the scenario that played out less than 11 months earlier on the very same field.
2. Record day vs. Rebels
This wasn’t so much a moment as it was a collection of moments in 2019 against the Rebels. Tagovailoa and Smith had career days that afternoon, as Smith caught a team-record 11 passes for a team-record 274 yards and a team-record 5 touchdowns.
Tagovailoa went 26-of-36 in the game for 416 yards and a school-record 6 touchdowns in the game, and his 7 total touchdowns moved him into 1st place on the Alabama all-time touchdown responsibility list.
This headed our list of top 10 Crimson Tide moments of the decade, too, and it is easy to see why.
The game, win or lose, was already going to define Alabama football for the next 2 seasons by the time it got to that point. Trailing Georgia in the CFP National Championship Game in Atlanta, Saban made the bold decision to replace starter Jalen Hurts with freshman Tua Tagovailoa at halftime.
Tagovailoa and the Tide erased a 13-point deficit to force overtime. Once in OT, Alabama held the Bulldogs to a field goal. Tagovailoa scrambled and was sacked on 1st down for a 16-yard loss to the Georgia 41, setting up 2nd-and-26 — the greatest walk-off touchdown in program history.