Alabama's Nick Saban Reveals How Tua Tagovailoa Can Rebound After Title Loss

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2019

Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa throws during the first half the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Clemson, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

Tua Tagovailoa was the best player in college football for most of the 2018 season, but the end of the year didn't go as the Alabama star likely hoped. 

The quarterback missed out on the Heisman Trophy—finishing second to Oklahoma's Kyler Murray—and then suffered a blowout loss to Clemson along with the rest of the Crimson Tide in the national championship game.

Alabama coach Nick Saban is now putting the pressure on Tagovailoa to get himself back mentally going into 2019.

"I think that he has to challenge himself to get back into great shape and overcome some of the things that happened toward the end of the year," Saban said Tuesday, per Alex Scarborough of ESPN. "And I think he should take the perception that he has a lot to prove relative to how we ended the season."

Tagovailoa won the starting job from incumbent Jalen Hurts in the summer and then showed the college football world why, finishing the year with 3,966 passing yards, 43 passing touchdowns and only six interceptions. He also added 190 rushing yards and five scores on the ground.

However, he seemed to struggle against better competition as the year progressed.

Two of his interceptions came in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia before Hurts led a come-from-behind win. Another two came in the national title game against Clemson, which ended in a 44-16 blowout.

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"The question is, who here on our team is happy with the way things ended last year?" Saban posed. "We're certainly not."

Expectations are always high at Alabama, which has won five national championships in the last 10 years. Tagovailoa returning along with a lot of his weapons will keep the squad once again near the top of the polls when the season starts in August. 

It will be up to the quarterback to show he is better than his numbers from the last few games.