Replacing Hurts: Was It Really the Right Decision?

Photo credit: nytimes.com

So you watched the College Football Playoff National Championship game about a week ago; the Alabama Crimson Tide trailed 13-0 at the half. The Tide’s offense was sub par, gaining only 94 yards off 24 plays against the Georgia Bulldog defense. Alabama’s defense wasn’t impressive either, giving up 13 first half points; however, I’ll give the defense the benefit of the doubt since it was on the field most of the first half due to the offense’s ineffectiveness. So when the offense can’t score points, who’s to blame? The quarterback of course. Tide starting quarterback Jalen Hurts completed 3 of 8 passes for 21 yards. That’s an average of seven yards for every completed pass and only one completion shy of connecting on half of his pass attempts. These stats aren’t terribly bad, but it’s the small number of stats that doesn’t help Hurts’ case much. During the first half, I saw a quarterback – who’s known for making big plays with his feet – really trying to wait as long as possible for an open receiver, and he made wise choices to throw away the ball when all else failed.

Now, let’s consider some other factors: Hurts doesn’t play defense, so he didn’t give up 13 first-half points, including a one-yard touchdown run with seven seconds left in the second quarter. Hurts also isn’t the team field goal kicker, who couldn’t connect from 40 yards in the first quarter. Considering these factors, the Tide could’ve entered the half down only 6-to-3 instead of the larger 13-0 deficit. If this was the case, does Saban still decide to bench Hurts even with the Tide getting the kickoff to start the second half?

But, trailing 13-to-0 to a former assistant in a national championship game many people felt your team didn’t deserve to be playing in, chasing your fifth national title in nine seasons, trying to tie Paul Bear Bryant’s record for most national championships, what do you do? You do the same thing you did in the 2016 season-opener against USC – replace your starting quarterback with a true freshman. Blake Barnett started the game but was replaced by Hurts who stole the show. He  completed 6 of 11 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 32 yards in 9 carries while notching two touchdowns. But, Barnett did see the field again in the second half and connected on a 45-yard pass for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. However, he transferred later in the season which was the best option for him in my opinion. Continue reading “Replacing Hurts: Was It Really the Right Decision?”