Alabama’s Hurts expands horizons of the freshman quarterback

Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts outruns Texas A&M for a touchdown Saturday. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts outruns Texas A&M for a touchdown Saturday. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

TUSCALOOSA, ALA. – Watching Alabama’s Jalen Hurts put up what for him was a very average performance against Texas A&M Saturday, never once was there the urge to diminish his day with the phrase, “not bad for a freshman.”

Back in Athens, they have marked every step of another noted true freshman quarterback with the disclaimer: “Relax and remember, there are going to be growing pains.”

But at Alabama, such pains are not acknowledged. They are not allowed. The first true freshman to start at quarterback during Nick Saban’s decade at Alabama was commanded to do exactly what he is doing – trigger an undefeated and No. 1-ranked team. Expectations do not get tempered in these parts.

That an 18-year-old can throw for 164 yards and two touchdowns and run for 93 yards and another score against the 6th-ranked Aggies and it be deemed merely very average tells you a little about what Hurts is up to at ‘Bama. There have been no wild swings in output that you might expect from an inexperienced quarterback. His first collegiate snap was a fumble on a botched read-option play, as if to flush it from his system. He recovered nicely (Alabama went on to beat USC 52-6). Without undo drama or angst, he just wins. As if he has always been doing that beneath the brightest and hottest of lamps.

At both Georgia and Alabama, we are unfamiliar with the sound of the starting quarterbacks’ voices. Neither school deems a freshman capable of uttering a few banal quotes for the media, no matter how much he has otherwise been thrust into the public view. (You know, it’s amazing how much this Saban fellow mimics Kirby Smart).

As for comparing their work on the field, that is tricky business. Like trying to compare the seedlings of very different trees. Distinct species of quarterback are Georgia’s Jacob Eason (classicus dropbackis) and Hurts (elephas dualthreatus).

Hurts is asked to run a different system and is surrounded by a different level of talent. He has the benefit of a team that scores almost as much on defense as it does on offense. He also labors under the pressure that anything less than a national championship constitutes abject failure.

There, all the necessary counterbalances have been employed. Now a look at the numbers:

Passing Efficiency Rating – Hurts 140.1, Eason 118.96.

Averaging Passing Yards Per Game – Hurts 193.6, Eason 195.1.

Touchdown/Interception Ratio – Hurts 11/5, Eason 9/5 (Georgia has played one less game than Alabama).

Rushing Yards – Hurts 521, Eason minus-34.

Passing Touchdowns – Hurts 11, Eason 9.

Rushing Touchdowns – Hurts 9, Eason 1.

Beyond numbers, Hurts has accomplished seemingly the impossible – earning Saban’s trust to put a callow quarterback in charge of his offense. He is attempting to become the first true freshman quarterback to lead a team to a national championship since Oklahoma’s Jamelle Holieway in 1985. He is, as was elaborated in a recent CBS Sports story, redefining the potential and possibilities of the true freshman quarterback.

And how eagerly we look forward to that day that Hurts and Eason – as all grown up as college quarterbacks – may put their greatly contrasting styles to use against each other in a game of great importance.

Reader Comments 0

14 comments
AlexWaller
AlexWaller

The rushing yards stat jumps off the page I know Eason is a pro style QB but so was Stafford and I remember him making a lot of good plays running the ball. It seems to me having zero threat of the QB running is making it easier to defend the offense especially when the play calling is already suspect. Are there currently any top tier teams running an offense with zero threat of a run by the QB?  Maybe there are that i am not aware of. I hope there will be a fair competition between Eason and Fromm next year as it could prove very interesting.

Rabun Dawg
Rabun Dawg

I do realize that Hummer was not trying to compare the two as he did state that they were playing in different systems and the talent levels surrounding both were different. Just on the surface it could be construed that Eason was not having as much success as Hurts being the fact that both were freshmen qb's at major  programs. I dare say if Eason were lining up behind Bama's offensive line, he probably would not have that -34 yd rushing stat. Also, before the critics come forth, UGA is still considered a major program, just not having a good level of success at present. Jury still out on Eason and coach KS, but hey, both are just Freshmen!

Rabun Dawg
Rabun Dawg

Hurts is surely a dynamic looking young QB and he is surrounded by superior talent. Like someone said, JPWilson was very successful @ Bama because he also was surrounded by superior talent. No comps w/Eason, different styles, different talent level around him, so there is no basis for comp. Bama appears to be on a different level from any college  team I have seen this season so far. Their ability to get that much scoring from their defense is crazy good!

dawg fan
dawg fan

I expected a nice piece on Hurts but instead was disappointed with more AJC trolling of Kirby and UGA fans.  You guys can barely talk about a horse race or something without getting in a few jabs. 

At any rate, I have seen no team worthy of even stepping on the same field with Bama this year.  They will dispatch of all pretenders and roll to 16-0.  Saban will retire at the end of the year and one Lane Kiffin will take over as Alabama head coach while retaining most of the staff.  You heard it here first.  Book it punks. 

Harvey
Harvey

Now, you wanna talk top-quality:  Alabama has vastly improved quality of cheerleaders, but is lagging way behind in 'bettering' the flag girls and dance squad (cannot image who bribed the cameramen to get them airtime).

Harvey
Harvey

NOT Heisman trophy caliber player - - - He's nothing without the support around him;  they make him, he does not make them, better.

Mulk
Mulk

@Harvey Harvey,


All you have to do with your sentence is plug in Smart at the beginning of it as in "not a NC coach----- he's nothing without the support around him; they made him, he did not make them, better.

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

John Parker Wilson was successful in that system. Just saying.