Well, we’ve reached the special time in preseason when the college mags start coming out, and that includes Lindy’s, which means it’s time for those catty quotes from rival coaches who, for obvious reasons, choose to remain nameless. (Although I continue to maintain these articles have lost a little off their fastballs since Tommy Tuberville left the SEC. Ah, good times.)
I don’t buy Lindy’s, but, thankfully, the good folks at 247Sports do and they’ve helpfully shared a few pickings that I’ll share with you in turn.
Let’s start with Alabama, and this amazing quote about its star quarterback.
“I think Tua needs to humble himself,” the anonymous coach said. “I think he did some bad things in the bowl game that cost the team because he put himself ahead of the team. He needs to understand Alabama won national championships by playing great defense and special teams and not beating itself. In the national championship game, the quarterback play was atrocious, and some would say the play-calling, too.”
Tagovailoa finished last season with a 199.44 passer rating. That was 28 points better than Jake Fromm, who finished second in the SEC. There isn’t a team in the conference that wouldn’t take Tua and start him (okay, maybe the Dawgs wouldn’t, but not because Fromm is a clearly better option). He didn’t play atrociously in the national championship game, he just didn’t play as well as he did in the semi-final game against Oklahoma. (He did play atrociously against Georgia.) He also played hurt down the stretch because his team needed him.
And that’s the real point here. For all this bullshit about great defense and special teams, Alabama’s best unit according to S&P+, was its offense. How anybody thinks Alabama wins because of stellar special teams play is beyond me, but last season, its usually stout defense leaked like a sieve in the last three games, as evidenced by giving up 5.75 ypp against Georgia, 6.83 ypp against Oklahoma and 7.65 against Clemson — its three worst showings of the season.
So, unless “humbling himself” meant playing on all three teams, it’s hard to blame the blowout on Tua’s big head. And I suspect Nick Saban is more than happy to risk the 2019 season on Tua’s attitude.