University of Alabama

Quarterback battle the primary topic of discussion for Alabama at SEC Media Days

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
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

Even when Alabama’s Ross Pierschbacher goes back home to Cedar Falls, Iowa, the senior center can’t escape the question that kept popping up at SEC Media Days on Wednesday.

Pierschbacher said he is constantly asked about Alabama’s quarterback situation, even by family members curious about the Crimson Tide’s upcoming season. Pierschbacher said his favorite answer to give is to simply say fall camp will tell a lot about the battle between junior Jalen Hurts and sophomore Tua Tagovailoa, and that the inquiring people probably know as much about the situation as the four-year starter does.

“If I had a dollar for every time I heard [the question], I’d be a rich man,” Pierschbacher said.

Pierschbacher wasn’t alone in talking about who will start for the Crimson Tide when their season opens against Louisville on Sep. 1 The topic of Hurts versus Tagovailoa has been present throughout the offseason, and Wednesday’s edition of SEC Media Days was the chance for media to ask the people who have the most insight on the situation.

Alabama coach Nick Saban decided to save reporters the effort and energy of asking the question. He spearheaded the topic in his introductory statement, giving up as much information as the veteran head coach was willing.

“I think the No. 1 thing that you will want to talk about is the quarterback controversy that you’d love to create, that you’ve already created, that you will continue to create, and I will tell you the same thing exists there. It’s still to be determined as to who is going to play quarterback for Alabama,” Saban said. “So you can ask all of the questions about it, but it’s still to be determined.

“Tua basically missed spring practice due to a [right thumb] injury. Jalen had a good spring. Both guys had great summers, and we’ll just have to see who wins the team in fall camp. So, we’ll see. So, some of your questions, when you ask me about that, I’m going to say: We’ll see. So don’t get mad at me.”

Even though Saban did his best to shut the door on quarterback questions, that only meant so much. There have been rumors that Hurts may decide to leave the Crimson Tide if Tagovailoa wins the job. Saban was asked if he anticipates Hurts still being on the roster for the season opener against Louisville, and Saban explained he had no reason to believe Hurts would not be around.

“I expect him to be there,” Saban said. “I think it’s our job to give both players a very fair opportunity to have a chance to win the team at their position. I think that one of the two guys — obviously, both are capable. We’ll create a role for one or both of those guys on our team, and they’ll all have to make a decision based on what that outcome is as to what their future is, you know, at Alabama.

“We certainly would love for every player on our team to stay at the University of Alabama and graduate. Jalen has a great opportunity to do that in December. So, we are hopeful that he will stay there and be a graduate regardless of what his circumstance is as a player. But that’s not to minimize his chances of being a starter and making a great contribution to our team in some way, even if he isn’t a starter.”

Pierschbacher is sure to continue receiving questions about who he will be hiking the football to this fall. As far as the veteran offensive lineman is concerned, the Crimson Tide will be well off with whoever gets the nod.

“I think both of them obviously have great talent,” Pierschbacher said. “So, regardless who goes out there, we still have to do the same job and still have to block the same guys and stuff like that. Nothing changes.”

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