Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts is just a freshman, but the way he prepares and how he is self-critical of his play has earned Nick Saban’s praise.
There was a moment early in Alabama’s victory over Tennessee when quarterback Jalen Hurts had messed up. After the gaffe, television cameras caught an angry Nick Saban on the sidelines seemingly yelling at his freshman quarterback.
A few plays later, Alabama was in the end zone and the rout was on. Hurts would go on to rush for a team high 132 yards and three touchdowns as the Crimson Tide walked out of Neyland Stadium with a 49-10 over their rivals on the Third Saturday in October.
During his Monday press conference, Saban discusses his young quarterback. According to Alabama’s head coach, Hurts’ focus and attention to detail are the primary reasons the freshman has been so successful.
“Young players, I don’t care who they are, and Jalen probably handles this as much as anybody else, [they’re] just like little kids,” Saban said. “They go from toy to toy to toy when they are three years old, five years old. They’ve got no focus, no concentration. It’s hard for them to stick with things. We deal with the same thing when we’ve got young players. They can’t stay as focused as the juniors or seniors on all the little details every day in practice and preparation and all that type of stuff. So, we’re trying to, and Jalen is probably as mature and does it as well as anybody I have ever seen at his age, but still we are trying to bring him along in all these circumstances and all these situations, and there’s nobody on our team that wants to do that more than he does. He sort of welcomes it.”
Hurts has been phenomenal in his rookie outing, leading the top-ranked Tide to a 7-0 record going into this week’s showdown against No. 6 Texas A&M. The freshman has made mistakes, but the manner in which he has reacted has resulted in Saban’s adulation.
“He’s very self-critical so when you bring something up to him, it’s kind of like, ‘I get that,’” Saban said. “Maybe it is because his dad was a coach, I don’t really know, but he’s one of the easiest guys to manage in that circumstance that I’ve ever been around at his age. One of his greatest assets is he’s like a sponge when it comes to those types of things, and I think that is going to enhance his development and he’s probably where he is now as a freshman because of that.”
Saban, known for occasional sideline outbursts toward his players, assistant coaches, and referees, said that with Hurts, he doesn’t often have to jump up and down and get in the quarterback’s face.
“I don’t really get on Jalen that much,” Saban said. “It is more conversational.”
Maybe the 64-year-old Saban has become more relaxed in his later years, or maybe he realizes what a talent he has in Hurts under center. Either way, if the young prodigy continues to play as well as he has all season, don’t expect him to face Saban’s infamous wrath.