Alabama Football

Tua Tagovailoa Will be Alabama’s Starting Quarterback in 2018

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As the Alabama Crimson Tide come down from their high of winning the College Football Playoff National Championship, the inevitable question(s) will snowball into a proverbial powder keg waiting to burst as to just who the starting quarterback will be for the 2018 season. There’s really no need for Nick Saban to overthink this one. The answer is simple: Tua Tagovailoa is Alabama’s best quarterback and needs to be moving forward.

Why you ask? Did you not see the second half of the CFP National Championship? There is no way on God’s green earth Saban can allow Jalen Hurts to march out in front of 100,000 plus screaming fans and not expect darts to be thrown should he hold on to the ball too long at any point during the season. While Saban made the perfect and correct call to bench Hurts in favor of Tua, he created the inescapable backup quarterback syndrome in which fans always clamor for when the starter is not playing so well.

I remember my first year as a student at the Capstone. Tyler Watts was in his final year at Alabama and there was a redshirt freshman quarterback everyone could not wait to see play. That quarterback was Brodie Croyle. I’ll never forget Watts getting hurt on a series and hearing thousands of fans cheering knowing Croyle would be coming in much sooner than they had hoped. This is not the dynamic Saban will want. He doesn’t want more murmurs and rumors of current players and receivers wanting Tua in favor of Hurts.

In addition, keep in mind that this will be the fifth spring/fall quarterback battle Saban has had. This time, however, no one wants to see this thing play out that long. For Greg McElroy and Star Jackson, that lasted after the A Day game when Jackson clearly had no shot at the job. AJ McCarron and Philip Sims was a tight battle that had fans choosing sides, but ended immediately after the Kent State game. The most heated to date was the Blake Sims versus Jake Coker dual. With Blake having back-to-back poor spring games (Coker was a transfer, so did not play), that left the entire summer and fall camp for mass speculation that Coker was the answer. Sims ended this debate after the final fall scrimmage in which Coker apparently had a meltdown of a performance, giving Saban and company no choice but to anoint Sims the starter. The following year, Coker found himself in another battle with four other quarterbacks (really two) and after another up and down fall camp, his ups were enough to start the opener against Wisconsin, but lost it shortly thereafter — and then gained it back in warrior fashion against Ole Miss.

I say all of that to say — Saban doesn’t want these problems. It’s not worth it. It’s not fair to the team, and most certainly, it’s not fair to Tua and Hurts. The players want Tua, the fans want Tua, and deep down I’m willing to bet Saban (and the coaches) wants Tua as the starter as well.

Jalen Hurts CFP National Championship

Jalen Hurts talking with Alabama offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and head coach Nick Saban during a timeout. (Photo by Alicia Devine – Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Jalen Hurts has been a phenomenal ambassador and representative for the Crimson Tide. However, this is about playing the best player at the most important position. Hurts is still a leader on this team, and I personally don’t believe his time at quarterback is done. I believe he will be utilized (should he stay) in special packages throughout the game to elevate the offense that much more.

In the end, it’s time for Saban to make another tough call. Nobody likes to give the hard news, but if Saban is truly about his business — like we know him to be — he will do what is best for the team and name Tua the starter from day one of spring practice. It’s the only way to go.

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