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Jumbo Package: Tua Days officially begin for Alabama

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Louisville at Alabama Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Labor Day, everyone.

Plenty of folks were talking about the Tide over the weekend but, as you may imagine, most of it surrounds one player in particular.

It’s that now, after years of winning championships with guys like Greg McElroy, A.J. McCarron, and Jacob Coker at quarterback, the Tide actually have the best quarterback in college football under center. What the hell are the other 128 teams supposed to do about that?

Alabama was leading 35-0 when Tagovailoa left. Just like always, they demolished their Week 1 opponent (51-14). The only difference is that instead of slowly strangling their prey, the Tide ripped their still-beating heart out from their chest and ate it.

Welcome to college football in 2018, where Alabama has a Heisman candidate at QB. At least everybody’s deaths will be exciting to watch this time.

Alabama has already proven it can run over teams without an accurate downfield passer. Now that the Tide have Tagovailoa to put the ball into tight windows far from the line of scrimmage, the unfair have only gotten less fair.

Choose whichever barometer you want.

None will lead you (or Saban) to any conclusion other than that Tagovailoa is now the man. The QB controversy that started when he replaced Hurts at halftime of the national championship game against Georgia on Jan. 8 is essentially over.

To be sure, there is still a role for Hurts to play on this team, but Saturday’s showing suggests the offense’s production would be maximized by him playing another position — or several. That shouldn’t be too difficult a task, considering the athleticism and strength he brings to the table.

He could line up as an H-back, or a tight end, or a receiver, or a running back. He can run gadget plays, distract defenses and take over in short-yardage situations. The possibilities are endless. It’s not a stretch to imagine him in any of those roles.

It certainly isn’t disrespectful.

All of that is to say the answer to Alabama’s quarterback “question” should be — has been — Tagovailoa. Even if Saban still won’t provide it.

Alabama: Imagine, if you will, what Ferris Bueller must have felt when he got behind the wheel of Cameron’s dad’s 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California. That’s how I like to think Alabama coach Nick Saban felt when he realized he could use a quarterback like Tua Tagovailoa. Prior to last season, Saban had already won five national championships (four with Alabama) primarily because he recruits enough blue-chip players to make those runs every year. To that point, though, he’s won those titles without a true difference-maker at quarterback. No longer. Tagovailoa started Saturday’s 51-14 win over Louisville and unquestionably is the guy for Alabama’s offense. He can do everything Jalen Hurts does as a runner and a passer, and then some. He and receiver DeVonta Smith might be the most exciting television in the SEC. So just think: Alabama was molly-whopping opponents on the regular anyway. Now it’s going to be a whole helluva a lot more fun watching them do it.

Saban was smartly deflecting attention away from Hurts. It’s a classic interview tactic, and one Saban uses often when he doesn’t want to answer a question. When you question the questioner, the focus shifts and a new reality is formed.

Saban was protecting his player, which is what good coaches do.

He also was letting everyone know that he’s done talking about his quarterbacks, but if you’ve been wearing your Saban Rant Decoder Rings then you know exactly why.

There’s nothing left to talk about.

There is indeed nothing else to talk about, other than how many yards and touchdowns Tua will throw for and whether he’ll be in New York in December. Insiders have said since the first fall scrimmage that the QB competition was basically a sham, and it certainly appeared to be with Tua staying in the game as long as he did before Jalen got an opportunity. Frankly, Saban said as much in the pregame interview with the “both will play out of respect for what they’ve done for the program” line. Time to sit back and enjoy the ride, folks.

By the way, Saban apologized to Maria Taylor for his response to her QB question. That should be put to bed.

Lots of freshmen played Saturday.

-- Slade Bolden: Played but did not record stats.

-- Cameron Latu: Entered the game late and made a tackle chasing Louisville’s Hassan Hall out of bounds after a three-yard gain. He’ll be someone to watch as Alabama adds experience to possible pass-rush specialists.

-- Jerome Ford: The fifth running back off the bench got two carries for four yards in the closing moments. A 3-yard gain was followed by a 1-yarder. Though not a big-time recruit coming out of high school, he impressed in August. It’s just a stacked running back depth chart.

-- CB: Josh Jobe: Played but did not record stats.

-- Jaylen Moody: The former 3-star recruit saw some early time on special teams but did not record stats.

I was surprised to see Bolden, Ford, and Moody. It will be interesting to see if they continue to see the field, or if this was just taking advantage of the new redshirt rule by giving them a taste as a reward for their work in the fall.

Mack is loving life.

We love you too, Mack.

In other news, some Michigan fans are growing tired of Jim Harbaugh, who is now exactly .500 in his last 16 games. Unfortunately for them, canning him would be a little pricey.

Sorry, Wolverine peeps. You gave a massive contract to lure that creepy, khaki wearing, Malcolm X impersonating teenage slumber party participant to your school. Enjoy at least two more years of his nonsense. The NFL doesn’t want him anymore.

LSU won convincingly last night.

The Tigers, and especially Orgeron, needed this one. Indeed, Orgeron was all smiles following a 33-17 spanking of the Hurricanes in the Advocare Classic at AT&T Stadium, drastically flipping the narrative surrounding his team in just a few hours.

Standing between his wife, Kelly, and LSU tight end Foster Moreau, swaying as the LSU alma mater played following the win, the coach smiled, waved and yelled. “We one-and-oh, boys! Yeah! YEAH!”

From where I sat, LSU’s defense looked great, but despite what is being written today I thought the offense was putrid. They rushed for all of 3.8 yards a carry, but considering 50 of it came on one run by Nick Brossette where they caught the ‘Canes in an oddly designed blitz, the success rate numbers have to be even more brutal. Brossette individually ran for 125 and 5.7 per tote, but a meager 3.6 on 21 carries with the one big play removed, and the passing game was even worse with 46% completions, a 5.8 YPA and 94 passer rating. Time will tell whether Miami has an outstanding defense this season, but the Tigers have a long way to go on that side of the ball before they face the likes of Jarrett Stidham, Jordan Ta’amu, Nick Fitzgerald, and Tua Tagovailoa, all of whom will likely put more points on the board than Malik Rosier.

We’ll close with your favorite dirty old man, who just can’t help himself.

What are the odds that AJ would get traded to the team who hired Brent Musberger to do play-by-play? Katherine has to be thrilled.

That’s about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.