Alabama sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts won the starting job in the 2016 season opener against USC and has not looked back while running the Crimson Tide offense. With all of the blue-chip talent around him, some skeptics have labeled Hurts as overrated and/or just a system quarterback. But Hurts has an incredible record at Alabama and shown that he’s a gamer.
Like any quarterback, Hurts has strengths and weaknesses, and has displayed both while running Brian Daboll’s offense this season.
Hurts has shown that he has been able to capitalize on the deep ball.
This play summarizes his ability in the deep passing game perfectly. He found his favorite wide receiver, Calvin Ridley, on this deep strike.
Notice the little things here. The patience. The footwork. The high point of the release on his throw. This was an important score in the season-opener against FSU, and he led his primary target perfectly.
Hurts is even more dangerous with his feet.
The easy thing to see here is Hurts making a play with his feet against a bad defense. I challenge you to look closer. This play is a standard read option with an h-lead concept.
What does that mean?
It means the quarterback needs vision and athleticism to make the play work. His first read was the edge player. After he got out in space, Alabama led the way with tight end Hale Hentges. At this point in the play, it is all Hurts. He finds space and reads his blockers.
Hurts has an innate ability to make plays using his legs. This includes scrambling to move the chains.
Remember this play. I’m going to come back to it in a second.
Let’s look at the same play again. This time, don’t focus on his legs; focus on his eyes.
It is no secret that Ridley is the go-to receiver at Alabama. But time and again, Hurts has shown that on most plays, he’s a one-read quarterback. If that read is not there, he typically scrambles. To his credit, he usually nails the throw or is able to pick up chunk yards with his feet.
Take a look at these plays. Keep in mind that the outcome is positive, but top-notch defenses down the road may be able to adapt to Hurts’ tendencies.
Hurt stares down his targets, but no one is questioning his arm.
Every now and then, Hurts makes a questionable decision. Here’s a throw in the red zone against Ole Miss.
I think it is easy to agree that there were better choices that Hurts could have made on this play.
Still, Hurts has as much moxie and poise as anyone in the country.
(You can follow Zac Blackerby on Twitter @Zblackerby)
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