The weekend was nice, so very nice, for brothers Tua and Taulia Tagovailoa.
Tua made his first start as a pro on Sunday, leading Miami over the Los Angeles Rams, 28-17. He didn’t have to throw often, completing 12 of his 22 attempts for 93 yards and one touchdown without a pick. The Dolphins took advantage of four turnovers in the second quarter to seize a 28-7 halftime lead.
He fumbled in his opening series after being sacked by Aaron Donald, but was turnover-free from that point on as Miami improved to 4-3.
“I was on pins and needles, to be honest, especially after the start he had, but that really wasn’t his fault,” said Tagovailoa’s former offensive coordinator at Saint Louis, Ron Lee. “After that, he had a little more depth on his drops. The Rams have a heck of a front. I was squeezing for him every time he dropped back, but he did a great job. I’m proud of him. Everyone in Hawaii was watching his game.”
Saint Louis quarterbacks coach Vince Passas was stoked.
“Gosh, he got the ‘w’ and that’s the main thing. In the NFL, it’s based on wins, not completions or interceptions or touchdowns, so it’s good to get a win in his first start. I thought it was amazing against a defense like that,” Passas said. “I’ve never seen Miami play with that kind of fire defensively. They were playing for each other and they had a special chemistry. I think that’s what Tua brings.”
Meanwhile, younger brother Taulia was superb in his second college start, completing 26-for-35 passes for 394 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-44 win over Minnesota. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound sophomore also rushed eight times for 64 yards, including a game-winner in overtime.
Each was among the most prolific quarterbacks in Hawaii high school history. Tua passed for 8,158 yards and 84 TDs in three seasons at Saint Louis. He completed 66.1 percent of his attempts and was picked off only 17 times in 817 pass attempts under offensive coordinator Ron Lee and quarterbacks coach Vince Passas. Saint Louis won the Open Division state championship during his senior year.
Taulia Tagovailoa started as a freshman at Kapolei with father Galu as his offensive coordinator. As a sophomore, he was under the tutelage of then-offensive coordinator June Jones. He ranks ninth all-time in career passing yardage with 6,703 yards and had 64 TD strikes with just 21 interceptions in 913 attempts. He then transferred to Thompson High School when Tua enrolled at Alabama.
He transferred from Alabama to Maryland after his freshman season.
Lee is looking forward to Tua Tagovailoa’s evolution as an NFL rookie.
“Down the road, he’s going to have to step it up, and the more time he gets (to practice), the better. They’re going to need to throw the ball more. The throws that Tua made, those intermediate routes, he was on the money,” Lee said. “They dropped at least three, but he was poised and confident. The game wasn’t too big for him. He gets a lot of pressure. He’s done such a great job at Alabama, (fans) expect a lot right off the bat. He got past this one and he’ll look to the next one.”
Tua on the move — Lee knew it would be a key weapon.
“Tua has pressure right in his face, gets ride of the ball on the rollout, that’s another weapon, how accurate he was,” Lee said.
Passas counted a handful of drops.
“There were at least five drops and a couple of bad throws, but he had big poise,” Passas said. “I was kind of nervous during the warmups, watching him. After that first hit, everything falls back into place. That’s how most quarterbacks are. The first hit knocks out all the butterflies. He’s a gamer.”
Miami visits Arizona next Sunday. Maryland will travel to Penn State on Saturday.