Going into Week 2 of the season, I was curious to see how Alabama offensive coordinator Brian Daboll would handle Jalen Hurts and the Crimson Tide’s passing game. Whether it was a stellar Florida State defense, a lack of progression by Hurts or just taking what the defense gave them, Daboll’s Alabama offense and Hurts didn’t look new in Week 1 despite offseason promises that both would.
Following Alabama’s 41-10 win over Fresno State, it’s apparent to me now that Daboll won’t force Hurts to be new, because by being new, you’d be asking him to be something he’s not: a pocket passer.
Look around college football. Passing quarterbacks like Sam Darnold (26 attempts for 316 yards against Stanford Saturday), Josh Rosen (59 attempts for 491 yards against Texas A&M two weeks ago), Baker Mayfield (32 attempts against Ohio State) and Lamar Jackson (39 attempts for 393 yards at North Carolina) are filling the sky, posting statistics Hurts can’t dream of. Take those numbers with a grain of salt, however, as they depend greatly on quality of opposition and their teams’ offensive philosophies.
And remember this, none of their teams are better than Alabama. While I’d like to see Alabama display a more polished aerial attack, I’ll give Daboll credit for not trying to make Hurts fit into a box that he simply doesn’t feel comfortable being in and remembering that the objective of the game is to win, not put up big passing yards. If passing was what Alabama needed to win (and it obviously doesn’t) or the strength of its quarterback (it obviously isn’t), then it would do that.
But it’s not. And it doesn’t need to. And that’s OK.
Jalen Hurts does his best work while on the run. That doesn’t make him a bad quarterback or one who can’t play the position at a high level. This isn’t the NFL. Darnold and Rosen and Mayfield are all better pro prospects than Hurts, but that’s irrelevant to this conversation. Whatever you or I think of Hurts as a passer is only relevant to what he’s asked to do inside the Tide’s offense to give it the best chance of winning.
Nick Saban said as much Monday when he was asked about his quarterback’s development as a passer.
For example, in Saturday’s game, Daboll called for a pass and then a planned quarterback run that ended up going 55 yards for a touchdown. Did that touchdown count for fewer points because it came with Hurts running the ball instead of passing it?
Hurts finished the game with 18 passes, 14 completions, a 77.8 completion percentage and 10 rushes for 154 yards. That’s a great game.
In two games, Hurts has combined to complete 24 of 36 pass attempts for 224 yards, only 15 yards more than what he’s gained on the ground. While that’s an uncommon ratio for a quarterback, it clearly works for him and Alabama.
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