Benched Jalen Hurts Praises Tua Tagovailoa After Alabama's Win vs. Georgia

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2018

Alabama's Jalen Hurts (2) is seen on the bench with Tua Tagovailoa (13) head coach Nick Saban during the second half of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Georgia Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

After being benched in the second half of Monday's College Football Playoff National Championship Game in favor of freshman Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts offered a gracious response.

When asked about the situation by ESPN's Tom Rinaldi (h/t Chance Linton of 247Sports), Hurts spoke glowingly of Tagovailoa: "I knew he was gonna step in and do his thing. We have a lot of guys in the QB room that play really well, he just stepped in and did his thing ... did his thing for the team."

Hurts also revealed what he told Tagovailoa after head coach Nick Saban informed them of the quarterback change: "Ball. Play your game. He's good for stuff like this and he has the 'it' factor. I'm so happy for him and so happy for the team."

The Crimson Tide trailed Georgia 13-0 at halftime, but the quarterback swap sparked Alabama to a 26-23 victory in overtime.

Hurts, who was named SEC Offensive Player of the Year as a freshman last season, struggled mightily during the first half of Monday's game.

He completed just three of eight pass attempts for 21 yards and finished the contest with 47 yards rushing.

Saban turned to a more lethal passer in a game where Bama had to come from behind, and the decision paid dividends.

Tagovailoa went 14-of-24 for 166 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. No pass was bigger than the 41-yard dime he unleashed to DeVonta Smith to seal the victory for the Tide in overtime.

The freshman signal-caller saw limited action during the regular season, and he has yet to start a game in his young collegiate career.

Although Hurts has just two losses as a starting quarterback at Alabama, Tagovailoa's performance will undoubtedly give Saban plenty to think about regarding his quarterback situation entering 2018.