It’s been widely speculated that Nick Saban would redshirt quarterback Jalen Hurts this year, thanks to the emergence of Tua Tagovailoa as the team’s top passer. Based on comments made by the Alabama head coach on Thursday, that’s not going to happen.
“It’s the same as it’s always been, to use them both,” Saban told ESPN’s Chris Low on Thursday. “It evolves a little bit as you go. Our team has evolved. I can’t tell you exactly how it all will play out. It’s going to be whoever helps our team play the best, and they’ve both played a role in doing that.”
Given the new NCAA rules, Hurts could technically play in one more game this year and still redshirt this season. But that’s not on Saban’s mind. That being said, he clearly understands what a unique situation he has with both quarterbacks being key members of his team in 2018.
“I don’t know of any other precedent at any time in college football where a guy started 28 games, won 26 of them and then somebody took his place. That’s never happened. So that’s hard for Jalen, and it’s hard for me. I’m a loyal guy and loyal to the guys who get out there and lay it on the line for you. You want to be fair to all of your players, but you also want to be fair to your team.
“We needed both quarterbacks last year, and we’ll need them both again this year.”
There’s no doubt that Tagovailoa is the catalyst for this year’s offensive explosion — Alabama has scored 50-plus points three games in a row for the first time in Saban’s tenure with the Crimson Tide.
That said, it’s not like Hurts has been bad.
Tagovailoa has completed 72 percent of his passes for 646 yards (12.92 yards per attempt) with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. Hurts has completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 248 yards (8.86 yards per attempt) with four touchdowns and one interception.
So, clearly both players are playing well. With that in mind, we don’t blame Saban for keeping Hurts in his back pocket as an available weapon all year long. It’s a long season, and anything can happen.