Tua Tagovailoa’s heroic championship game performance will likely go down as one of the best halves of football an inexperienced quarterback has ever been a part of. After being thrust into action after halftime already facing a 13-0 deficit, the game was in doubt and the lead looked nearly insurmountable. He managed to get the ball into the endzone on his second drive but Georgia again deflated the momentum by way of an 80-yard score and an interception off of an errant throw.
All seemed lost many times that night. All the way up to the 2nd-and-26 walk-off bomb, the game’s momentum swung time and time again. As the team walked off the field in celebration, one thing appeared to be for certain: Tua showed the signs of a potential superstar.
Since the game, hundreds – if not thousands – of articles have been published on the Hawaii native stating in one way or another how good he can be for Alabama going forward, all while still paying respects to Jalen Hurts for his professionalism. Without a doubt, Tua looks like the long-term answer at quarterback and it feels unlikely that Saban would let the opportunity of a star passer fall through his hands.
With that said, Brian Daboll’s recent departure to become the offensive coordinator of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills leaves yet another hole in Saban’s coaching staff. Rumors of former Ole Miss head coach, Hugh Freeze, and Notre Dame’s current offensive coordinator, Chip Long, both being potential candidates have swirled over the past 24 hours. Regardless, whomever Saban chooses to hire will have one additional massive job responsibility: unlocking Tua’s superstar potential.
Anyone that actually watched the entirety of the CFP Title game saw how good Georgia’s defense really was. Even after giving up a lot of points to Baker Mayfield’s Oklahoma Sooners a week earlier, they found a way to contain him and ultimately complete the epic 17-point comeback. Kirby Smart is one of college football’s greatest defensive minds and in shutting out the Tide’s offense completely in the first half showed exactly that.
With that said, when Tua Tagovailoa stepped onto the field for the second drive of the second half and turned nothing into a third down conversion the game seemed to change. The way he was able to drive the ball down the field through the air like a master-craftsmen completely changed the tune to which the Tide had been rolling to. In everything that followed, he showed pocket savvy and an intricate knowledge of the passing game. The ability to look off safeties, anticipate routes, and slip the ball through tiny windows were all something seemingly unfamiliar to Alabama fans.
Sure, he made some mistakes. He threw an interception on what looked like a run play, held the ball so far outside his body when running it made folks at home want to scream, and he did take that untimely sack in overtime, but he was still more than impressive. In just a half of football (plus overtime) he went 14-of-24 for 166 yards and three touchdowns. The trust between Tua’s arm and that of Hurts’ was overly apparent from just a stat line perspective.
Tua threw the ball 24 times despite being fairly inexperienced while Jalen – who is 25-2 as a starter in his career – was only asked to throw the ball 8 times in the first half.
Any offensive coordinator will tell you it is a blessing to have a great quarterback behind center considering how they can make you look good on even some of your bad play calls. Even so, the pressure of bringing out the best in Tagovailoa over the next few years should be in large, bold print on their job description.