I wanted to get that out of the way for those of you who saw the first half, watched Kendrick Lamar, and thought, well, it’s not going to get better than this and shut it off. If that was you, I don’t blame you, but I do feel sorry for you. Kendrick was incredible and he was the best thing that game had going for it. Until a new star hit the stage.
Because as bad as that first half was, and it was terrible, a borderline unwatchable rock fight, reminiscent of Bills-Jags in all the worst ways, the second half was that good. That doesn’t even do it justice.
It’s been roughly 12 hours since the game ended and I still can’t believe what I saw. It’s going to take a long time to understand, comprehend and process what we all just witnessed.
And I guess to earn that second half, we had to grind through that first half. Because without a brutal first half from Alabama where they had 94 yards, 4 first downs, and trailed 13-0, we wouldn’t have gotten what we got in the second half. And what we got in the second half was Tua Tagovailoa replacing Jalen Hurts at quarterback.
And we got a star – Tua. And after last night, he’s already in the one-name club with Madonna, Prince, and Pele.
As much as last night’s win was about Nick Saban, and I’ll get to him in a moment, it was really all about Tua. A true freshman who’d never started a game and never played in a big moment before, he replaced Hurts and absolutely lit the college football world on fire.
Take a step back. Forget what you know right now and go back to when Tua first entered the game, to that moment when Nick Saban yanked his starting quarterback, the guy who led him to the national championship game last season and had him within seconds of a win, and replaced him with a true freshman down 13-0. Are you serious? The national championship game isn’t time for a quarterback controversy. Anyone else does that and it’s a total panic move.
But it worked early. After going three-and-out on the first drive, that actually resulted in a blocked punt for Georgia that was called back, Tua lit a spark in the Alabama offense and put Georgia on their heels. The moment should’ve been too big for him, but it wasn’t. His second drive reads like this: incompletion, four-yard run, 9-yard run for a first down, 15-yard completion for a first down, 9-yard completion, 14-yard completion for a first down, 6-yard completion for a touchdown.
But that doesn’t even do it justice. Because on that 9-yard scramble on third down, he took multiple hits, never went down, changed fields and picked up a vital first down. That’s when it was clear that there was something different about Tua. That he wasn’t just crazy athletic, but he’s fearless. And tough as hell.
Now on the next drive, he was a little too fearless. Georgia had just scored another touchdown to go up 20-7, Tua came out and tossed a pick. That’s the kind of moment that would crush most freshmen. Fly too close to the sun, get burned, and crash back to earth. Not Tua. The Bama defense got him the ball back with an interception on the next play and he led a field goal drive.
Around this point, the question wasn’t whether it was a good idea to go to Tua in the second half, it was, why the hell wasn’t he in there from the start? Why wait? I couldn’t believe what I was seeing from Tua and I couldn’t understand why we had to wait so long to see it.
The guy can sling it. He can lower his head and truck guys. And he’s composed as hell. He handled post-game interviews like a 30 year old, not a freshman. I don’t know what “it” is. But I know “it” when I see it and Tua has more IT than any freshman I’ve ever seen. He did his job, leading Alabama on a potential game-winning drive in regulation, only to see his kicker butcher a potential game winning chip shot, sending it to overtime.
Again, that could’ve been an emotional dagger for Tua and the Tide. Get that close to the title and then have a shanked kick? Good luck ever getting over that. Lose that game, that way, and everyone lives with that the rest of their lives, and no one who had anything to do with it ever gets over it.
Georgia got the ball first and kicks a field goal. Then on the first play of overtime, Tua made his biggest mistake – getting sacked for a 16-yard loss. Picked a terrible moment for his freshman moment. But before you could comprehend just how bad that sack was, and point to that as one of the reasons they had the crystal and then lost it….he did this…
Just had a brutal freshman moment and one that looked like it could cost them the game. Then he bounced back with the play of a lifetime. Check that – the play of just about any other quarterback’s lifetime, because if this guy’s doing that in his first serious action, who knows what else he’ll do in his career. He just went from never starting a game to winning the national championship game. He nearly cost his team the game in one moment and won it in the next.
He could be a total flash in the pan. He could be one incredible moment and done. I doubt it. But he could be, and if he is, that’s great. Because that moment was incredible. There’s never been another like it. And we may never see anything like that ever again. But you know that won’t be the last of Tua. This is dude is a straight up star.
And now that Saban allowed himself ten minutes to enjoy that title, now he has to decide who his qb-1 is going forward: Tua or Hurts, who might be the best teammate ever after handling that benching the way he did. And he may have to be again, because I don’t know how you keep Tua off the field going forward. Sure, they don’t play again for 8 months. And a lot can happen. But this dude is just that electric. Hard to imagine putting THAT back into the bottle. Pretty much impossible if you ask me.