Alabama football coach, Nick Saban will not hesitate to use Jalen Hurts against the Oklahoma Sooners for several good reasons.
Alabama football coach, Nick Saban is not much of a gambler. He carefully assesses risk versus reward and trusts his teams to win by execution. If Tua, as the young star has predicted, is near 100 percent by Dec. 29, it might seem there will be no need to call on Jalen Hurts.
The Oklahoma Sooners are statistically worst at defending the pass. They are also middle of the FBS pack in getting to opposing quarterbacks. The greatest strength for the porous Sooner defense is rushing defense. So why not just let Tua light them up all night?
The first reason is the risk-reward of letting Tua carry the ball on RPO’s. Is it worth the risk of potentially aggravating his healing ankle, or worse, incurring another injury? Jalen might be just as good an option for the Crimson Tide offense.
Jalen must be supremely confident after his exceptional performance in the SEC Championship game. Tua is the better passer but the OU secondary is its weakest link and Jalen should have the luxury of frequently open receivers. Using Jalen could also enhance the Tide rushing opportunities. A now healthy Jalen presents another potential rusher for the Sooners to defend on every snap. If a Jalen rushing threat pulls another Sooner down into the box, the Tide receivers can exploit mismatches.
The big IF in our premise is the offensive game plan not becoming too predictable with Jalen at QB. The Oklahoma defense is not terrible stopping the run. The Crimson Tide offensive line might have some run blocking inconsistencies if Deonte Brown is still hobbled by turf toe. Alabama football should be able to run, but not if it becomes so predictable the Sooners often know the point of attack.
Based upon general information about Tua’s health and some presumption, we expect him to start. If somehow the Sooners get an early lead, Nick Saban is likely to prefer Tua while playing from behind. On the other hand, if the Tide jumps out to a couple of touchdown lead, bringing in Jalen may result in still productive, but more time-consuming drives.
To the credit of Nick Saban, Mike Locksley, Dan Enos and Josh Gattis, the Alabama football offense can win with either quarterback. If not before, after the win over Georgia, the offensive players should have a confidence in Jalen that Saban has always maintained.
Alabama football should not distort its highly successful offensive weapons. Explosive plays should still be a goal. But as the OU vs. Army game showed, the Sooners are not built to counter a time-consuming offense.