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Alabama Football Film Room: Jalen Hurts

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Jalen Hurts wasted no time after enrolling in January, impersonating Clemson QB Deshaun Watson in practices before the national championship. The true freshman had arguably the best showing in the A-Day and, by all accounts, is solidly in the running for the starting job.

A true freshman in serious contention?
A true freshman in serious contention?
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Hurts made the most of his first days on campus. He enrolled early as the Tide were preparing to face Clemson for the national title; and he jumped into the fray immediately, simulating the Tigers’ dual threat QB Deshaun Watson. The 6’2, 210lb Hurts himself was the #3 dual threat quarterback in the Class of 2016.

Alabama has never had a true freshman quarterback start under Saban; and while most considered Hurts a longshot initially, his performance during the spring has absolutely earned him a seat at the table. Our own Clint Lamb had an excellent piece on Hurts in June and whether we could see him jump past the others with more experience in the system. It’ll be a fascinating battle to watch in August regardless of the outcome.

3rd and 5: Hurts is in the shotgun and takes a five step drop. His first two targets - Daylon Charlot and Miller Forristall - are covered. Rather than looking to the checkdown option of Damien Harris, Hurts almost immediately takes off up the middle. Rashaan Evans quickly cuts him off, though; and he’s stopped with just a yard gained.

1st and 10: Hurts gets the nod for the second straight White drive. He’s under center and does a nice job of faking the handoff to Harris. The defense is flowing to the left as Hurts loops right with a whole lot of real estate in front of him. He keeps his eyes downfield initially, but he quickly decides he’s going to run it. Daylon Charlot is comfortably open, several steps ahead of Rashaan Evans, though. Had Hurts not committed to running, he could’ve had a larger gain. Still, that speed jumps off the screen.

2nd and 5: Hurts is in the shotgun with 11 personnel (1 running back, 1 tight end). It’s supposed to be a screen to Damien Harris, but the defense has the perfect playcall. Tony Brown blitzes from the Star (nickel) position, and Harris is forced to chip him to slow him down. The blitzing Keaton Anderson also does a nice job of recognizing the screen and stays on Harris, who’s trying to recover and get into position. Hurts scrambles, but he has nowhere to go because Bradley Bozeman did a poor job of blocking Johnny Dwight. Hurts is "sacked" for a loss of 8.

3rd and 13: Hurts takes the snap out of the shotgun with four wide. He barely has time to get to the end of his drop before Christian Miller is almost on him (the dismissed Charles Baldwin got beat as the right tackle). Hurts steps up and scrambles right. He gets the edge and hits the boost, knifing through some DBs to just barely pick up the first down. It would’ve been nice to see Hurts turn his eyes downfield once he got out of the pocket, but he used that athleticism to pick up the first anyway.

1st and 10: Hurts again does a fantastic job of selling the play-action to Damien Harris. He comes off his first read and targets a wide open Miller Forristall near the sideline. Despite having time to throw it, the pass is a little wobbly and barely gets to Forristall, who somehow snags it and keeps it from hitting the ground. Short gain.

3rd and 5: Hurts takes a little three step drop out of the shotgun. He almost immediately gives up on the pass and begins scrambling. Charles Baldwin was having some struggles, but Hurts still had time. He ends up looping around to the right; but this time, he looks downfield. Christian Miller has the angle to keep him from getting around the corner, so Hurts throws a bullet on the run to Cam Sims at the sideline. Sims can’t quite keep his feet in bounds, so it’s incomplete and fourth down. Bad decision to abandon the pocket so early, but he did a good job of trying to find a receiver and a heckuva job almost completing the pass under difficult circumstances.

1st and 10: With less than a minute to go before half, Hurts takes the reins back. He takes the snap out of the gun and looks to his right. Both receivers in that area are covered, so Hurts looks elsewhere while stepping up into the pocket. He goes to his check down, Damien Harris, for a decent gain. Nice awareness and a nice job not taking off running.

2nd and 1: Hurts quickly gets everyone set and runs another play. He looks right again on this play and throws a dumb pass to Cam Sims in triple-coverage. Hurts does at least place it where only Sims has a shot at it. He can’t get it, though;, and it’s incomplete.

1st and 10: Harris picked up the first on a run, and now Hurts is trying to run another play as quickly as possible. He takes a deep drop and only has time for one read, as Christian Miller has beaten Charles Baldwin again. Hurts avoids Miller and scrambles right. Josh Frazier is able to get the "tackle" after a short gain; but Hurts would’ve been able to pick up several more yards and get out of bounds had he not been in a black jersey.

2nd and 9: Hey, look! It’s Charles Baldwin getting beat again! Hurts steps up into the pocket, but he isn’t able to attempt anything deep. Hurts scrambles right and keeps his eyes downfield. He spots his safety blanket Harris and fires a wobbly pass on the run. Harris has Keaton Anderson on top of him and can’t haul it in.

3rd and 9: Hurts has three receivers (two WRs and one TE) to the right. Forristall flares out to the sideline while Derek Kief, the slot receiver, runs an in-route about 15 yards downfield. Hurts sees a linebacker (Rashaan Evans) covering a wide receiver (Kief) and throws a pretty pass that way. Kief catches it and gets out of bounds, and the White team has a chance at a field goal right before half (guess how that goes).

2nd and 17: Hurts was sacked on a roll out on first down. Now he’s under center and fakes the handoff to Damien Harris. He has some time and stays in the pocket. Anfernee Jennings beats Bradley Bozeman, and Hurts tries to escape to his right but it’s too late. Back-to-back sacks.

1st and 10: Hurts gets another go for the White offense with time dwindling. Operating out of the shotgun, Hurts has Cam Sims to the left. CB Kendall Sheffield jams Sims and routes him inside some (side note here: I think Sheffield does a great job on this play. There’s the initial contact. He’s in zone but watches Hurts and comes off Forristall’s shallow in route to drop deeper on Sims.), and this is the only way Hurts looks. The pass is weak and underthrown, and Hurts is lucky Rashaan Evans doesn’t get a pick. Evans does deflect it, though; but the ball still makes it to Sims, who happily snags it and fights for some extra yards, drawing a facemask in the process. This went from very bad to very good for Hurts.

2nd and goal: The offense is over on the left hashmark. Derek Kief is in the slot, and Daylon Charlot is wide right. Hurts takes the snap and immediately rolls right. Charlot and Kief cross, with Charlot providing a little pick that gives Kief a couple steps on Hootie Jones. Damien Harris meanwhile is providing a solid block on Tony Brown. Hurts keeps rolling and rolling, and Keaton Anderson is flying in. Kief gets clear from the pick and the defender, and Hurts throws a dart while running to the right and back. Kief catches it as he’s falling out of bounds, but he keeps those feet in. The White offense gets the only touchdown of the game.

Check out more Film Room reviews here.