The Alabama Crimson Tide have suffered through many departures of coaches and players so far this off-season. The Tide’s 2018 offense experienced a major change of efficiency with the change at quarterback from Jalen Hurts to Tua Tagovailoa. In his freshman year, Hurts was SEC freshman of the year and SEC offensive player of the year. He brought the Tide to the national championship game where they lost to Clemson, 35-31. The following season, Hurts brought the Tide back to the national championship where he was benched at halftime for the more explosive Tagovailoa. The Tide would go on to beat the Georgia Bulldogs, 26-23, in overtime. Hurts competed throughout the off-season, but he couldn’t grab a chance to regain his starting spot.
Hurts remained with Alabama as a backup throughout 2018. With Alabama blowing out so many teams so early in games, he saw a lot of fourth quarter mop-up duty. When Tagovailoa was knocked out of the 2018 SEC Championship to Georgia due to injury, Hurts came in and led the Tide to a 35-28 comeback win. After Alabama lost to Clemson in the 2019 National Championship, Hurts announced he would transfer to Oklahoma. He gracefully thanked the team, coaches, and fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide. He will be a huge part of program history as he accounted for a 26-2 record as a starter. Now Hurts will will have the inside track in replacing Kyler Murray as the starting quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners. As for Alabama, they now look at options for a backup quarterback.
Mac Jones Can Build For The Future
Before Hurts and Tagovailoa, the Crimson Tide’s quarterbacks weren’t some of the top-rated recruits in their position. Of all three quarterbacks last season, Jones doesn’t possess the explosive playing ability. Jones impressed then-quarterback coach Dan Enos and head coach Nick Saban enough to be included in playing time during Alabama’s blowouts. As a redshirt freshman, Jones appeared in six games. He passed for five completions (out of 13 attempts) for 123 yards and one touchdown. His one touchdown was a 94-yard pass to wide receiver Jaylen Waddle against Louisiana-Lafayette. While Jones played in multiple games this past season, he didn’t perform to explosive high-caliber measures.
This off-season, Jones has a chance to build his passing capabilities and learn more under Tagovailoa. Jones possesses the strong arm and durability to be a productive passer for the Crimson Tide now or in the future. While Tagovailoa excels as the Tide’s starting quarterback, Alabama needs a backup and he has proven to be susceptible to getting dinged up physically. Jones can also be a key factor for the Tide if Tagovailoa faces some more injuries like last season. What gives Jones the early lead to be the backup is that he has great knowledge of the offense. Even with a new incoming offensive coordinator, Jones has the edge due to his experience and knowledge. Jones might have the potential to be the starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide in the 2020 season if Tagovailoa departs early for the 2020 NFL Draft.
Two Incoming High-Power Freshmen
College football is no stranger to the rise of true freshman creating an impact for a team. Johnny Manziel was the first freshman Heisman Trophy winner in 2012. Last season, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence became a household name by beating Alabama in the 2019 National Championship. Alabama has two high-caliber freshman quarterbacks already enrolled in school in Paul Tyson and Taulia Tagovailoa. Both quarterbacks are related to high-valued personnel directly with the Alabama football program. Tyson is the great-grandson of legendary head football coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide in Paul “Bear” Bryant. Taulia Tagovailoa is the younger brother of the Tide’s current starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
It is likely that one or both high-caliber 4-star recruits could redshirt this upcoming 2019 season. It could also be likely either Tyson of the younger Tagovailoa could step in and become the Tide’s highly-efficient backup in 2019. Currently, both quarterbacks are going to be competing to see which one will have the upper hand when spring camp starts. Both quarterbacks possess strong arms and have high motors to make consistent, explosive passes. Even if Tua stays for his senior season and two new recruits don’t redshirt, they will have two years to start for Alabama as juniors. This potentially might be a position battle every year until a new starter is named or one of them transfers to another program.
Dark Horse Candidates
Three other quarterbacks on the roster who, as of now, are confirmed to remain with the team. Junior quarterback Kyle Edwards and freshman quarterbacks Braxton Barker and Layne Hatcher spent the entire 2018 season on the sidelines. This off-season is a big chance for either to overpass the two freshman quarterbacks and Jones. Edwards will be a senior in this 2019 season and is the tallest and biggest over Barker and Hatcher. Barker was the highest rated pro-style quarterbacks at the end of his high school career. Hatcher is a former 3-star dual-threat, who might have the advantage of being a wildcat quarterback with RB Josh Jacobs departing early for the 2019 NFL Draft. Hatcher could also be a multiple variation quarterback, receiver, and special teamer much like Taysom Hill is for the New Orleans Saints.