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Henderson: Alabama fans fail to appreciate quarterback Jalen Hurts

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In life, perfection is desired by many. Few times in life, do we achieve perfection. Some enjoy working on their craft daily, weekly, monthly, and some throw in the towel after a few rounds of trying to achieve something that eventually becomes too far fetched or that is just too difficult. The difference between successful people and people who come up short in their goals usually comes down to effort and poor execution. Those that achieve their goals and who are working towards perfection often receive the most criticism by naysayers.

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Over the last few months since arriving in Tuscaloosa, Alabama there has been so much talk surrounding the play of Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts. While Alabama went 14-1 last season missing the National Championship by just five points, the now sophomore started in 14 of 15 games, threw for 2,780-yards with 23-touchdowns, ran for a 954-yards with an additional 13-touchdowns, earning him the SEC Offensive Player of the Year Award.

Despite his accomplishments, coming into this season most fans and members of the Talk of Champions message board were and still are highly critical of Hurts and his passing game. For months we heard time and time again, “He does not have a deep ball, he fails to read through the progression of down field targets, and he leaves the pocket too early.”

Not really having a place in any of this, being an outsider, I found it rather interesting that despite his what appeared to be on the field success from last year, people are dissatisfied with his play. Even after Hurts was 16 of 25 passing for 301-yards and two touchdowns in the spring game, it wasn’t good enough.

Fast forward to the first game against Florida State. If you recall, Alabama entered No. 1, Florida State No. 3 and the Seminoles entered with what was supposed to be one of the best secondary units in the Nation. Alabama won that game 24-7, Hurts was 10 of 18 passing with one touchdown, including a 53-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Ridley. Following the game, as you would suspect, he was criticized for his lack of vertical game.

Following the game against Florida State Saban talked about the play of Hurts.

“I thought Jalen did a good job. He did what we asked him to do," Saban said. "I think a lot of the things that could have been really good plays for Jalen didn't turn out so well because we didn't protect very well. Now, he will tell you that sometimes he's responsible for that because he can redirect the protection, but there were other times where he made mental errors up front and didn't block them, and we had people open but couldn't get them the ball.”

97.8 Passing Rating Against Fresno State 

All eyes continued to ride Hurts and question the same topics entering week two against Fresno State. Lack of deep ball, he will not stay in the pocket, etc. In Hurts’ first 11 passes, he was 10 of 11, including a 55-yard touchdown run. At the half against Fresno State, Hurts’ numbers were incredible as he had accounted for 231-yards of offense as the Crimson Tide led the Bulldogs 28-3.

Hurts would finish the game 14 of 18 passing for 128-yards with one-touchdown, he also ran for a career high of 154-yards and two touchdowns. After the dust of week two had settled in the world of the college, Hurts had the second highest quarterback rating in the Nation of 97.8.

Inside The Numbers: Jalen Hurts Stats 
Opponent  CMP/ATT Yards Passing/TDs Yards Rushing/TDs

Florida State

10/18 (55.6%)

96/1

55/0

Fresno State

14/18 (77.8%)

128/1

154/2

Totals

24/36 (66.7%)

224/2

209/2

Last Season

240/382 (62.8%)

2,780/23

954/13

Saban was asked on Monday if the continued criticism of Hurts is overblown, “If you want to be critical of a guy for rushing 154 yards and think he should not do that so he can pass more than that’s up to you. You can do that if you want. But we did pass for 192 yards and I think that’s the kind of balance that we want to create. We’re going to continue to try to help our players play to their strengths and work on any weakness that they have so that they can do better on those things.”

During the second game of the season, Alabama completed a pass to 11 different receivers compared to just four against Florida State. “The emphasis was to execute. Just going through the read and who ever is the read give them the ball and let them make a play,” said Hurts following Alabama’s 31-point win over Fresno State.

Since taking over as a starter at Alabama, Hurts is an incredible 15-1 as a starter which is a winning percentage of .938. He has room to improve obviously with him just being a 19-year sophomore, and while the quarterback position is always going to be under the microscope, you’re going to have to keep looking for something wrong, because Hurts has proven time and time again, that he wins on Saturday and does what Saban asks of him, which is to execute.

So remember, while perfection is almost required from the Alabama football team, especially from the fans, Alabama has been perfect just once under Nick Saban when the Tide went 14-0 in 2009. If we just judged Saban off that one season, we’d have failed to see the bigger picture of his impact on the program.

Same could be said for the impact that Hurts has on this year’s and had on last year’s team.

Jalen Hurts talks to media on September 12

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