Revel in the win if you’re a Bama fan, but be aware that for the Tide to win it all, Jalen Hurts had better step up his passing game or he could be remembered as the guy who lost two championships for Alabama.
Alabama Wins Despite Poor Play From Jalen Hurts
By: Larry Burton
Yes, Alabama won. Yes, as it was Hurts scored enough to win without the heroic scores the defense either set up or chipped in, but let’s just be honest here, Alabama won the game despite poor play from a quarterback who looked mediocre at best and pitiful at worst against Clemson.
There were times when Alabama had receivers open that Hurts either didn’t see and couldn’t get the ball to and if he did, it took a diving catch or some other kind of acrobatic move that allowed the ball to not be advanced any more. Robert Foster was a great example of a guy who couldn’t get a good catchable ball thrown his way despite beating his man on many occasions. There were times when Hurts seemed incapable of throwing a simple screen pass a back could catch on the run and the only Bama turnover was Hurt’s fumble.
If you name isn’t Calvin Ridley, Hurts seems to have trouble seeing you getting you the ball. With the wealth and talent of the receiving corps at Alabama, that is really sad indeed.
His five yard completion average shows that no team really needs to respect him as a downfield threat and indeed, Hurts longest pass of the night was a 13 yarder to Ridley. Anything any further was a flip and run by the receiver.
It was reminiscent of prior poor quarterback play in big games by Hurts.
Just managing to do just enough may not be good enough when the Tide takes on the Bulldogs in an All SEC final in this next game. Hurts doesn’t look like the kind of quarterback that can win a track meet as the Georgia team had against Oklahoma in the other semi final game and Alabama’s defense may not be able to be responsible for the majority of the cushion as they were in this game.
The offense looked bad under Hurts for most of the game and even had Saban yelling at Brian Daboll something to the extent of “Why are we throwing the damn ball?” as the game went into the fourth quarter.
With the poor throwing of Hurts as the game went on, why indeed? Alabama lost the always valuable time of possession clock by 11 minutes and they are the team with the great running back threats.
The bigger question with the championship game on the line now is not will Alabama win or lose the game, but will they win or lose because of Hurts?
In this game, Alabama was just 8 of 17 on third down for a 47% success rate on third down. Still that was better than the 27% third down rate they posted in the Auburn game. Down the stretch when it matters the most, Hurts is just not steering the offense in a way that looks like a championship team and unless he can somehow finally have the kind of game that Saban must think he can have it could be a nail biting championship against Georgia who put up a mind blowing 54 points against Oklahoma.
I realize that criticizing the winning quarterback after a huge win against the number one team in the country with one of the best defenses in America may not be the thing that fans that want to hear right now going into the biggest game of the year, but I’ve been in this business for a very long time and I’d like to think it’s because I call ’em as I see ’em and if calling out Hurts on this very big Alabama stage gives him the chip on his shoulder to improve his skills as a throwing quarterback, then so be it.
Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter