Coming off the bench to turn a 13-point halftime deficit into an overtime victory to win a national championship isn’t enough to guarantee Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa a starting role entering fall camp.
Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said during his press conference during one of four SEC media days on Wednesday that he has not decided on a starter for the regular season opener on Sept. 1 against Louisville — continuing what he has said repeatedly throughout the spring.
“The same thing exists there,” Saban told reporters. “It’s still to be determined as to who is going to play quarterback for Alabama. So you can ask all of the questions about it, but it’s still to be determined.”
Tagovailoa, a 2017 Saint Louis alumnus, suffered a setback during the first practice of the spring when he injured his throwing hand.
The injury required surgery but he is expected to be fully healthy for the start of camp.
“Tua basically missed spring practice due to an injury. Jalen had a good spring. Both guys had great summers and we’ll just have to see who wins the team in fall camp,” Saban said.
Hurts started every game last season for the Crimson Tide and completed 60.4 percent (154-for-255) of his passes for 2,081 yards, 17 touchdowns and only one interception.
Tagovailoa, in backup duty, completed 63.6 percent (49-for-77) of his throws for 636 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Hurts also rushed for 855 yards and eight touchdowns while Tagovailoa ran for 133 yards and two scores.
Saban implied that none of that will matter in deciding on a starter for the season. It will all come down to how each quarterback performs during camp.
“I think it all will be determined. Everything … will be determined by what the players do, the rest of the summer, how they win the team, what they do in fall camp, and I’m not making any predetermined decisions about that,” Saban said. “So they need to continue to compete like every other person at every other position on our team is competing.
“I love both guys. They’re both really good competitors. They are really good people. They are good leaders. They both make great contributions to our team. They are very well liked. So somebody has got to win the team and however these guys can help the team, I hope they are both committed to staying and doing that.
Should Tagovailoa win the job, there will be two starting quarterbacks in the SEC from Hawaii. Ole Miss senior Jordan Ta’amu is entrenched as the starter entering camp for the Rebels after completing 66.5 percent (115-for-173) of his throws for 1,682 yards and 11 touchdowns with four interceptions in eight games last year.
Ta’amu also rushed for 165 yards and four scores.