It took a little waiting — not to mention some gossip and angst — but the quarterback duel at Alabama is officially over. At least for now.
On Monday, coach Nick Saban confirmed the obvious regarding the much-debated competition between sophomore Tua Tagovailoa and junior Jalen Hurts, who had been the starter the previous two seasons.
“I think everybody knows that Tua is going to start [the next] game and we’re going to use Jalen’s skill set in the future to help however we feel he can benefit the team,” Saban told reporters at a weekly news conference.
The quarterbacks split time in the season opener against Louisville, with Tagovailoa getting the bulk of the opportunities, passing for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Hurts finished with 70 passing yards.
In the moments after the 51-14 victory, Saban snapped at ESPN reporter Maria Taylor when she asked him about the situation at quarterback. The coach said he subsequently reached out to her to apologize.
“I think as parents out there, you can relate to this, that you love all your children and sometimes some of your children do things a little better than others,” Saban said. “That doesn’t mean you vilify one and put the other on a pedestal, especially publicly, because you want to support and help both to be successful.”
Saban added: “I could have handled it in a better way … and I pray every Sunday that I never get angry.”
The Crimson Tide’s quarterback situation took an unusual turn at the end of last season when Hurts — who has a 26-2 record as a starter — was pulled at halftime of the national championship game. The seldom-used Tagovailoa replaced him, leading the team to a comeback victory over Georgia.
The mystery surrounding this season’s starter lingered through spring and summer.
“I just want to be clear that I have done this in the past, where we don’t say who the starter is going to be for the first game and we give both quarterbacks an opportunity to play in the game, which is exactly what we did in this game,” Saban said. “So now we know and you know.”