His own fan base isn’t quite sold on him, but Alabama QB Jalen Hurts is one win away from becoming a legend … and then, maybe, a backup job.
Daily Cavalcade of Whimsy
Sorry if this take sucks, it’s not my fault …
I go 26-2 in my first two years as the Alabama starting quarterback and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.
But, apparently, he’s no Jacob Coker
Why don’t you love Jalen Hurts, America?
Why don’t you love Jalen Hurts, Alabama?
He’s got the cool name. He’s got the cool number – that’s Deion’s number; the coolest college player ever. He’s got the cool hair. He’s got the cool demeanor. He’s got the cool game.
And yet, the focus is more about what he’s not than what he is.
Think about what this guy had to do to become the starting quarterback at Alabama.
Blake Barnett. David Cornwell, Cooper Bateman – those were supposed to be the big-time recruits who would lead Alabama to greatness again. At least, one of them was supposed to.
But when Hurts stepped in as a true freshman and earned the starting job, the pressure was on to not just lead one of Nick Saban’s greatest teams – which made it one of college football’s greatest teams – but to produce after the program lost those other quarterback prospects.
Yeah, he struggled in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl last season – but on the year, he ran for 954 yards and 13 scores, hit 63% of his passes with 23 touchdowns and nine picks.
Yeah, no quarterback who ever won a College Football Playoff game accounted for fewer total yards – thanks for that nugget, Pat Forde – but he threw the touchdown pass to O.J. Howard, and came up with the brilliant scoring run to come achingly close to winning the national title. His defense, though, didn’t get the memo.
Think about it. One stop. If the Bama D comes up with one stop, Jalen Hurts would’ve beaten Deshaun Watson.
And now, this year, he threw just one interception. That’s all that matters. Forget everything else. One interception.
That’s what he is. He’s what this team needs.
While Hurts is as even-keel as it gets, it takes a certain level of fire to do what he did from the start as a true freshman, and it takes a certain drive to take that loss to Clemson and make it something to embrace and use as fuel.
“He doesn’t throw down the field enough.”
“The offense isn’t explosive enough.”
“Anyone can win with this team.”
Okay – you try to be Nick Saban’s quarterback.
Okay – you try to keep on producing, even though you’re on your third offensive coordinator in two years.
Okay – you try to handle life in the Alabama spotlight, knowing that you can never, ever, ever lose. And even if you win, some people want to replace you.
Even at Alabama, you don’t go 26-2 as a starting quarterback without being a certain bag of special. And yet, 2017 star recruit Tua Tagovailoa is supposed to be better.
Hurts is good, and he’s done a nice job, but everyone loves the backup quarterback, and Alabama has that guy who can do things and take the offense paces that Hurts can’t.
At least, that’s the deal according to a slew of Alabama fans, media types, and insiders. And they might be right.
But for now, for tonight, this is when Jalen Hurts has a shot to go from very, very good, to legendary. One game will define him.
If Alabama pulls this off, it’ll probably be because of the defense, and the running game, and Saban. But if the Tide lose, and if Hurts is the quarterback of a team that dropped back-to-back national championship games, he’s suddenly in a graphic with Jason White – but without the Heisman.
But Hurts is trained for this.
He’s the 28-game veteran who shouldn’t make the mistakes the newbies on the other side might.
He’s the one who’ll become a college football legend if he and his team wins tonight.
And you will love him for it, Alabama.