Tagovailoa and Hurts are competing for the starting job, and it appears the Hawaiian sophomore has the edge after he was spotted working with the first-team offense at the start of practice Saturday inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Mere hours before -- on that very same field -- Hurts met with reporters for the first time since the aftermath of the national championship game.
And it was clear he had changed his tune.
He was no longer smiling. He was no longer projecting an image of satisfaction. He was no longer biting his tongue, or offering anodyne platitudes.
You definitely feel his pain. And people may paint this as being about Tagovailoa’s CFP heroics. But, in actuality, it’s more about what Hurts has not done over the past two seasons. The creeping realization that he’s losing the team, coupled with a growing resentment and his parents gnawing in his ear, and the resulting attitude shift is predictable.
“The biggest thing for young running backs that tends to be the toughest thing is the pass protection aspect of the position,” Locksley said. “I know Najee, with the intricacies that you see with the blitzes from teams and even when we practice against our guys, the one thing that I’ve seen the most improvement is his knowledge and understanding of our pass protection concepts.”
As happens with most young backs, it wasn’t Najee’s running ability that saw him face limited duty in 2017, it was his blocking. Improvement in that area has been a focus this offseason. And somethimes it just takes a while to bring players along in the passing game — Derrick Henry comes to mind. That guy turned out to be alright.
“Of course it’s Alabama. The program they’ve setup and the processes that are in place [work], even though there’s been a huge turnover on the coaching staff. I think, in some ways, that’s a good thing. It brings fresh ideas and fresh energy into an established process and methodology. It’s a program that is built for longevity.”
Straight from the horses’ mouths. When college coaches were polled about which team will take home the title in 2018, 92% had a resounding Crimson answer.
Tagovailoa flashed a mighty left arm in the national championship, but Hurts, who has rushed for 1,809 yards over the last two seasons, gives the offense a different dimension with his legs. The competition has provided more drama than Nick Saban prefers, but there’s a good reason he had yet to anoint one the starter and allowed the other to transfer: Having both makes his Tide a better team. — Ross Dellenger
There are dissenting voices, however. And many see the Clemson Tigers as the team to beat. Still, The Advocate’s Ross Dellenger makes the case for No. 2 Alabama as a better team with both quarterbacks on the roster.
“I was like, ‘Alright, it’s my defense. I’ve got to take control, I’ve got to be that alpha dog Coach Saban wants me to be,’” Wilson said at Alabama’s Saturday Media Day. “So, it’s just something I take full pride in because he doesn’t just say that about anybody, you know.
“It was Shaun Dion, it was Rashaan, it was Reuben, C.J., Dont’a, Rolando. It goes along the line, and those guys reached out to me and were like, ‘It’s your time, it’s your defense.’ It’s something I take full pride in and I’m going to make sure that all of us are on the same page and we play fast and I’ll get all the checks and calls for the whole defense.”
In this morning’s prospectus, we noted how this is, without question, Mack Wilson’s defense. Leadership is a role he is taking to with gusto.
The 2018 corner positions are still shaking out, but likely being manned by junior Trevon Diggs (a former four-star) and JUCO transfer Saivion Smith (a former four-star), who was able to take part in spring practices.
It’s possible that Diggs and Smith will prove to be stars who just needed their chances to shine, but there’s a lot less certainty at corner than Alabama has had in almost a decade, and there’s some question as to whether the Tide were stuck going young in 2010 or if they were pushed to do so by the undeniable Kirkpatrick and Milliner. They became first-rounders, and we can’t just assume 2018’s new guys will reach that level.
Similarly, the 2013 secondary had some weak spots that were rarely exposed, save for when they faced Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans in College Station.
Later this week, Brent takes a stab at the cornerbacks preview. The Mothership points to the secondary as an area of concern, and on paper, it’s easy to press the panic button.
College football writer Chris Walsh of BamaCentral.com joined The Game with Ryan Fowler with special guest host Drew DeArmond to discuss Alabama’s performance during the fifth day of fall camp practice, how the quarterbacks performed and Jalen Hurts comments at fan day on Alabama.
Chris Walsh takes a look at how the quarterbacks fared yesterday, with the Tua getting the First Team reps.
The DL hit the field yesterday, and it was a scorcher in Tuscaloosa:
That’s all for the mo’. We’ll have a practice report for you when they’re out. And, don’t forget, we begin our unit previews tomorrow, where we start with the wide receivers.
Roger me! If anyone wants to come mow my lawn, that’s a suitable birthday gift