“I never said that. I don’t know who’s saying that,” Saban said, cutting off the reporter. “It’s like me saying somebody said it’s going to be a hurricane outside today. Is that right or wrong? I said it so that means I created something that makes everybody panic and it creates news. You go out there and get people excited, interested and afraid.”
Saban’s frustration was the only storm brewing near The Wynfrey Hotel on Wednesday, July 12. After all, the head coach had just come from his first news conference at SEC Media Days, where he praised Hurts for his improvement heading into his sophomore season.
“You know, offensively, this is the first time that we've had a returning starter at quarterback since 2013,” Saban said in the hotel’s main conference room. “which creates the opportunity for that guy to develop in the things that he needs to do better, which Jalen has done a good job in the off season of becoming a better passer, understanding the passing game better.”
Hurts became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Alabama since Vince Sutton in 1984. Starting in 14 of Alabama’s 15 games, the Channelview, Texas native completed 62.8 percent of his passes for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He also finished second on the team in rushing, running for 954 yards and a team-high 13 touchdowns. Hurts’ combined 36 touchdowns set a single-season school record, topping Blake Sims’ mark of 35 set in 2014.
However, a rough end to the season put Hurts’ passing ability in question. Over the final three games, the 6-foot-2, 218-pound quarterback completed a combined 31 of 65 passes (48 percent) for 326 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the national championship game 13 of 31 (42 percent) for 131 yards and a touchdown.
Hurts showed vast improvement this spring, going 16 of 25 for 301 yards with two touchdowns and an interception during Alabama’s A-Day game. Although, Tagovailoa had an equally impressive performance, completing 17 of 29 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns with an interception.
Tagovailoa, the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback and No. 53 player overall in the 2017 class, also looked impressive during practice viewing sessions, tossing tightly-thrown spirals to receivers. That inevitably led to more buzz around the left-handed Hawaiian.
While the possibility of a second straight true freshman quarterback lining up behind center at Alabama is certainly a compelling storyline this summer, Saban wants to make sure the public knows it’s not a realistic one.
“We’re not going to tolerate people making stuff up just to create interest,” Saban said. “Which I understand and respect that’s your job, but it’s not going to happen.”
Read more at BamaInsider.com.